Vaccination remains the best protection against severe flu this year | Western Cape Government


Vaccination remains the best protection against severe flu this year

26 June 2024

The Western Cape is currently experiencing the peak of the annual influenza or flu season as the virus circulates in communities. Vaccination against influenza remains the best method of preventing serious illness and individuals who are at risk of severe influenza illness or complications are strongly encouraged to consider getting vaccinated at their nearest health facility (or buy the vaccine at a pharmacy) as soon as possible.

The following groups of people are at high risk of severe influenza:

  • Young children (under 5 years of age).
  • Older individuals (65 years old and older).
  • People with underlying medical conditions, such as heart diseases, lung disease, cancer, diabetes or liver/kidney diseases.
  • Pregnant women (up to 6 weeks post-partum).
  • People living with HIV or TB. 
  • And health care professionals (to protect themselves and their patients).

The flu vaccine is safe and effective.

“With the colder season upon us, we urge communities to take advantage of the flu vaccination programme and inquire about it at our public health facilities. It’s not too late to get the flu vaccine as long as the influenza virus is circulating. Vaccination helps protect the individual and those around them from severe illness,” says Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness Deputy Director of Communicable Diseases Control, Charlene Lawrence.  

Most people should recover from influenza in 3 - 7 days and the treatment focuses on treating the symptoms. Common symptoms include cough (and/or fever), sore throat, running nose, muscle aches, headache, chest pain or difficulty breathing, and occasionally diarrhea and vomiting. If your symptoms are not resolving, or are getting worse, please seek medical care. 

Some groups of people are at risk of severe influenza which may include pneumonia and bronchitis. People who are at risk for severe illness (as above) are encouraged to seek medical care earlier rather than later, as it may prevent hospitalisation or decrease the time spent in hospital.

If you are unwell with flu, please consider protecting others by staying at home where possible. If you need to leave the house while ill, consider wearing a face mask to protect others while also staying away from people who are at risk of severe influenza like the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.

To date, the Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness has administered 91 448 (87%) of its allocated vaccines across the province. With vaccines available, high-risk individuals are encouraged to visit their local healthcare facility to receive their vaccine without delay.