Klerksdorp Midweek, Klerksdorp - Flu season in South Africa, which typically occurs over the winter months from May to August, has commenced, but it is not too late to protect yourself with this year’s flu vaccination.
Dr Pete Vincent of Medicross Tokai and Netcare Travel Clinics says the flu vaccination takes some 10 days from its administration to become fully effective against strains of this highly infectious illness, which is linked to the deaths of many South Africans every year.
“The flu virus is constantly mutating and changing and, while many different types of flu virus strains exist, the annual vaccine is designed to protect against the main flu strains that are likely to be in circulation during that particular flu season,” notes Dr Vincent.
He points out that the influenza vaccine is considered by healthcare authorities the world over, including the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in South Africa, to offer individuals and communities the best protection available against influenza.
“Getting vaccinated against flu is the responsible thing for all South Africans to do. It is, however, particularly important for those who are at high risk of developing complications from the flu virus, including individuals who have weakened or immature immune systems. One should prefera-bly have the vaccine administered ahead of the flu season, or as soon as possible during the winter, so that the protection it offers lasts throughout the season,” says Dr Vincent.
“The more individuals who have the flu vaccine administered, the better the protection against a general flu outbreak among the population tends to be. Therefore, we not only protect ourselves when we are vaccinated, but we may also protect others who may be more vulnerable to the effects of the virus.”
He suggests that the individuals most at risk of developing serious complications from flu include:
- Those who are 65 years of age and older;
- Individuals who have respiratory conditions such as asthma or emphysema;
- People who may have compromised immune systems such as HIV-positive individuals, or those undergoing radiation or chemotherapy for cancer;
- Those who have chronic conditions such as compromised heart or kidney function or diabetes;
- Women who are in their second or third trimester of pregnancy;
- Babies and small children.
“It is recommended that all of these at-risk groups of people, as well as those who are in regular contact with them, such as healthcare workers and caregivers, be vaccinated against the influenza virus every year.”