Combatting Flu This Winter | Western Cape Government


Combatting Flu This Winter

5 June 2006
The Western Cape Department of Health is out to combat flu this winter. The Department bought 50 000 doses influenza vaccines as part of a scale-up effort to increase influenza and general public awareness regarding the categories of people that are eligible for influenza vaccination at public health institutions.

The purchasing of the influenza vaccine is to ensure that those without Medical Aid cover are protected. However, stocks are limited and the vaccine will be available on a first come, first serve basis, to those most at risk and to health care staff in direct contact with patients.

"During 2004 a total of 12 251 doses of influenza vaccine were issued to public sector health facilities followed by a total of 11 777 in 2005. The vaccination uptake varies across institutions," said Pierre Uys, Minister of Health for the Western Cape.

The vaccine composition for 2006 is: A/New Caledonia/20/99 (H1N1) - like virus; A/California/7/2004 (H3N2) - like virus and B/Malaysia/2506/2004 - like virus.

The following categories of people are offered influenza vaccination through the public sector health facilities in the Western Cape for the 2006 season (based on the National Department of Health recommendations):

  • Persons (adults or children) who are at high risk for influenza and its complications because of underlying medical conditions and who are receiving regular medical care for conditions such as chronic pulmonary and cardiac disease, chronic renal diseases, diabetes mellitus and similar metabolic disorders, and individuals who are immunosuppressed (including HIV infected persons with CD4 counts above 200/ml)
  • Residents of old-age homes, chronic care and rehabilitation institutions
  • Children on long-term aspirin therapy
  • Medical and nursing staff responsible for the care of high-risk cases
  • Adults and children who are family contacts of high-risk cases
  • All persons over the age of 65 years
  • Women who would be in the second or third trimester of pregnancy during the influenza season. Pregnant women with medical conditions placing them at risk for influenza complications should be immunized at any stage of pregnancy.

"People involved in avian influenza surveillance or research should be vaccinated in order to reduce the risk of a flu-like illness, leading to unnecessary isolation and investigation," said Dr Keith Cloete, Acting Chief Director: Health Programmes for the Western Cape Department of Health. Vaccines should be given sufficiently early to provide protection for the winter. A protective antibody response takes about two weeks.

Issued by:
The Directorate Communications
Office of the Superintendent of Health, Western Cape
Department of Health
Faiza Steyn
Director: Communication
Tel: 021 483 3235

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