Media release: At risk patients to receive Flu Vaccinations
With winter fast approaching in the Western Cape and a possible escalation of patients who will experience the cold and flu, the Western Cape Government has ensured that primary health care facilities are geared and ready to offer free flu vaccinations to patients at risk.
As we attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19, we reiterate that the flu vaccine does not protect you against contracting COVID-19. Each year the flu vaccine is developed according to the prediction of strains that will be in circulation for that season and should therefore be administered every year as the strains evolve continuously. However, receiving the annual flu vaccination will ensure that your immune system is not weakened, particularly for vulnerable patients.
The National Department has identified the vulnerable groups who are earmarked to receive the flu vaccination at public health facilities. These include:
- Front line health workers
- Individuals over the age of 65
- People with cardiovascular disease (including chronic heart disease, hypertension, stroke and diabetes) and
- People with chronic lung disease (asthma chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and
Pregnant women and people living with HIV and AIDS will be considered for vaccination once the first four risk groups have been vaccinated.
For 2020, the Western Cape received 105 000 vaccine doses. These vaccines have been distributed during the past week and is available from primary health care facilities. Facilities have record of the various patients in each of these vulnerable groups and will allocate quantities to these groups first.
As part of social distancing measures in place, our facilities will provide the vaccinations through outreaches such as: providing it at old age homes and administer it when home delivery of chronic medication are done. Those vulnerable groups who have appointments at facility will receive theirs when honouring their appointments.
How do you prevent the spread of flu?
In keeping in line with the current nationwide lockdown, the Department’s call is for the public to:
- stay home and only leave your home if you need to get essential supplies or medical care;
- keep 1.5 meter from others
- cover nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and throw away used tissue in bin
- wash hands often with soap or use an alcohol based hand rub, especially after coughing, sneezing, or blowing the nose;
- clean surfaces that are commonly touched.
How safe is the vaccine?
The flu vaccine, as with all vaccines, has been tested and declared safe for use, even for persons in high risk groups, including pregnant women and HIV-infected individuals. The vaccine cannot result in influenza infection as there is no live virus contained within the vaccine. Some persons experience mild fever and local pain at the injection site. Overall the vaccine has an excellent safety record.
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Principal Communications Officer: Southern Western Sub-structures
Department of Health
Western Cape Government
Address: Southern and Western Sub Structure Office: Cnr White and Main Roads, Retreat
Tel: 021 202 0947
Mobile: 081 277 0516