Priority groups encouraged to get the flu vaccination
“If you are in one of the risk groups for serious complications of influenza, get vaccinated against flu,” is the message from the Western Cape Department of Health as it seeks to avoid the winter flu epidemic and lessen the burden on the province’s healthcare system.
The flu vaccine, simply put, works by giving our bodies the necessary tools it needs to fight off flu. Flu vaccines can either be trivalent, meaning they provide antigens (molecules that initiates the production of an antibody and causes an immune response) for three strains, or quadrivalent, which provides antigens for all four.
To date, a total of 62 053 of 120 000 (51.7%) vaccine doses have been administered provincially. A total of 10 802 doses have been administered in the Cape Winelands district, 8 644 in the Garden Route district, 6 645 in the West Coast district, 6 645 in the Overberg district, 28 991 in the Cape Metro district, and 872 in the Central Karoo district. As at 10 June 2021, a total of 8 078 healthcare workers have received the flu vaccine.
The World Health Organisation recommends that nationally determined high-risk populations should be vaccinated against flu. High-risk groups include pregnant women (at particular risk of severe influenza pneumonia), people with HIV and other causes of immune suppression, people with chronic lung, neurological or cardiac disease, metabolic diseases such as diabetes and morbid obesity, the elderly (65 and older) and healthcare workers.
“The flu vaccine won’t protect people from becoming infected with COVID-19, but it is important to take the flu vaccine to protect oneself from influenza, thereby reducing the burden on the healthcare system. The flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine should be given at least 14 days apart. There is no particular requirement regarding the order of receiving the influenza and COVID-19 vaccines. If both vaccines are available at the same time and an individual is eligible for both, it is recommended to prioritise the COVID-19 vaccine,” says Charlene Lawrence, Deputy Director for Communicable Diseases Control at the Department.
Influenza can be a serious disease that can lead to hospitalisation and sometimes even death. Anyone can get very sick from flu, including people who are otherwise healthy. You can get flu from patients and co-workers who are sick with flu. If you become sick with flu, you can spread it to others even if you don’t feel sick. By getting vaccinated, you help protect yourself, your family, and your patients, and ensure that you can be available for your patients by having less days off work to help them.
High-risk population groups are encouraged to get the flu vaccine at their local clinic, or at private facilities through medical aid or out of pocket.
Byron la Hoe
Cell: 072 368 0596