As colder weather sets in, so does many seasonal illnesses and viruses such as the influenza virus, most commonly known as the flu. The majority of us will catch the flu between the last week of April until the first week of July, this is our typical flu season.
Beat the bug
The flu virus is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system: your nose, throat and lungs.
One of the best ways to help prevent getting sick this winter is to make sure your immune system is as strong as possible. The best way to maintain good health is to make sure you follow a healthy diet, practice good personal hygiene and get a flu vaccination to help safeguard you against the latest virus strain.
The annual influenza vaccination drive targets high risk individuals such as:
- pregnant women,
- HIV infected persons,
- adults or children at high risk for influenza-related complications,
- residents of old-age (nursing) homes and other chronic care or rehabilitation facilities,
- children who are between the ages of 6 months and 18 years who are on long-term aspirin therapy, and
- all persons 65 years and older.
If you suffer from any one of the diseases listed below, you can access the flu vaccine at your nearest local clinic for free or private healthcare providers, such as pharmacies and private practitioners at a fee.
- Chronic pulmonary disease (progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis).
- Cardiovascular disease except hypertension (conditions relating to narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to heart attack, chest pain or stroke.
- Renal, also known as kidney failure, liver disease, neurological (disorder of the nervous system) and diseases which primarily affect the blood such as haematological disorders.
- Metabolic disorders including diabetes mellitus.
- Morbid obesity and immunosuppression including HIV-infected persons.
Frequently asked questions
- How do I become infected with flu?
You’re most likely to catch the flu virus if you’re in close contact with someone who’s infected. The flu virus mainly spreads through droplets when infected people cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are close by. You can also catch the flu by touching a surface or an object that has the flu virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose.
- What are the signs and symptoms of flu?
- Acute upper respiratory symptoms: dry cough, sore throat.
- Sudden onset of fever.
- General discomfort, headache, fatigue, muscle pain and body aches, cold shivers and hot sweats.
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhoea, however this is more common in children than adults.
- Who’s at risk of developing complications?
- Pregnant women - including the 2 week period after delivery.
- Children younger than 2 years old.
- Elderly people (65 years and older).
- People with existing chronic diseases (heart, lung, kidney, endocrine) for example diabetes or asthma or persons who are immunosuppressed.
- Morbidly obese people.
- Young adults 18 years or older who’s receiving chronic aspirin therapy.
Getting your flu vaccination
The Western Cape Government Department of Health received a total of 86 000 vaccines for the province with an additional 7 200 vaccines as part of the Maternal Influenza Vaccination study which is available at specific sites including antenatal clinics and midwife obstetric units in the Cape Town Metropolitan district.