Get flu vaccine, if possible
UPDATE: Although it has been announced that flu vaccines in South Africa will be reserved for healthcare workers, due to their increased health risk during the pandemic, it is hoped that more flu vaccines would become available for use by the public. Check with your pharmacy whether there are any stocks available for the public and, if so, try to get one – especially if you are in a higher risk category due to your age or an existing medical condition.
In view of the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic, experts encourage that we all have a flu vaccine (and some of us have the pneumococcal vaccine where appropriate) this year. This is important in that:
- The more people vaccinated against flu, the less flu (and flu-related complications) there would be. We tend to underestimate just how dangerous flu can be, but it is estimated that around five million people worldwide catch flu each year, resulting in almost 650 000 deaths. With less flu going around, there would also be more medical resources available to potential patients with COVID-19, which has no vaccine yet.
- Flu and COVID-19 have the same basic symptoms, such as fever and coughing. If you don’t have a flu vaccine this year and then get the flu, you may be flagged as a potential COVID-19 case (and thereby put additional stress on the healthcare system). Moreover, you would be unduly stressing (which is not good for your mental health or your immune system) about potentially having contracted COVID-19.
- At the same time, because a flu vaccine can prevent or lessen the severity of the flu, if you do develop severe symptoms despite having had a flu vaccine, it may indicate that you have contracted COVID-19 and you would be alerted to seek medical help in good time.
Remember that the flu virus adapts every year, so last year’s flu vaccination will not help prevent you getting this year’s flu virus. Many people feel that they are healthy enough to skip the flu vaccine, or even believe that it can make them ill. Please see this article for common flu myths and truths to help you make an informed decision.
HOW THE SOCIETY CAN HELP
The Society covers one trivalent flu vaccine per beneficiary per year at a 100% benefit. For high-risk members* Vaxigrip Tetra will also be covered.
To save potential consultation fees, get your vaccine from your local Dis-Chem pharmacy (or another pharmacy if there is no Dis-Chem pharmacy near you). Dis-Chem is trading under their normal trading hours and these can be found on www.dischem.co.za
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE AVAILABILITY OF FLU VACCINES MAY BE LIMITED DUE TO GOVERNMENT’S RESERVATION OF THESE VACCINES FOR OUR HEALTHCARE WORKERS AT THE FOREFRONT OF OUR COUNTRY’S FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19.
* High-risk members are:
- People 65 years and older
- People who are immune suppressed
- Children between 3 and 5 years old
- Patients with two or more chronic conditions