The Flu Vaccine

The Flu Vaccine – Everything you need to know

With winter around the corner, flu is soon to follow. I have decided to research the Flu Vaccine. This post will, hopefully, will have all of the information you will need to decide whether you will be getting the vaccine done or not.

First things first, what exactly is the Flu Vaccine? Flu vaccines protect against infection by Influenza viruses. Every two years, the vaccines are re-developed as the virus changes rapidly. While their effectiveness varies from year to year, most provide modest to high protection against influenza. The first vaccinations started in the 1930’s with large scale availability in the United States in 1945. It is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system.

Who should get the flu vaccine?

Members who are 65 years or older, or those who have a Chronic Illness like one of these conditions will be benefit most from a flu vaccine:

  • Asthma
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Cardiac failure
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Chronic renal failure
  • Diabetes (Types 1 and 2)
  • HIV

Take note that the following people cannot get vaccinated:

  • Babies younger than 6 months
  • Anyone allergic to eggs
  • Anyone who already has a fever
  • Anyone who has shown a past reaction to a vaccine

Most medical aids do cover this vaccine. Some even reward members for getting the vaccine done. Uber South Africa in partnership with Discovery Health, Clicks and Dis-chem will also be bringing the flu shot to your doorstep. The vaccinations itself will be free but a flat rate of R100 will needed to be paid to cover the cost of the trip. Uber says that the service is only available in selected areas in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth. There are so many websites and pharmacies involved and all of them are quick to tell you all about the benefits, but are there any side effects or things to be concerned about?

Side effects:

Side effects are usually not serious and will generally disappear on their own in a day or two. The most common side effects are:

  • mild pain
  • redness and swelling of the skin at the injection
  • fever
  • feeling unwell
  • headaches
  • muscle
  • joint pain

Although the Flu Vaccines does not actually ensure that you will not get the flu at all, no vaccine is 100% effective, your flu will be short-lived if you do catch it. It will also be a lot less severe and it can keep you out of hospital if you do opt to get the vaccination done. The vaccine also lowers the risk of the flu turning into pneumonia or worsening an already diagnosed heart problem. It seems so extreme to think that flu can be life-threatening but unfortunately, it can be.

When to get vaccinated?

In South Africa, the best time to get your flu vaccine is before the end of April, before the flu season sets in, and before the virus spreads or as soon as the vaccine becomes available. However, if you have missed this period, the vaccine can still be taken at any time during the winter season. So basically, the time is now!

Where to get vaccinated?

If you are looking at getting vaccinated, the best would be to go to your GP for more information regarding the flu shot, if needed. You can also visit any of the following:

  • Any Dis-Chem with a clinic
  • Any Clicks with a clinic
  • Any Pharmacy with a clinic
  • Your workplace (If you have a clinic there and they have the vaccine available)
  • Your General Practitioner
  • Uber (If your area is listed)

If you want to use any of the above mentioned clinics, I would advise you to phone them before you go as there are so many people getting the vaccine done. You will have to make sure that they do have the vaccine in stock first.

Costs:

Again, I would advise you to phone them beforehand as not all of the options listed have the same pricing. Fees for the vaccination often include the costs of the actual vaccine, and associated professional fees. Not all pharmacies charge for the administration of the flu vaccine. Please ask your pharmacist about this.

Conclusion:

Personally, I have had the flu vaccine before while I worked at a pre-school as a teacher. It really made a big difference for me as there are so many sick kids coming to school in the winter months. I did get the sniffles but it only lasted for two days.

Good luck with your decision and stay healthy this winter!

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