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Here’s why the winter flu shot is advised

CAPE TOWN- Cooler winter weather is setting in across South Africa and with that marks the onset of flu season. Should you consider getting the annual flu vaccination?

The flu vaccination period started at the end of March and protects people against each year’s new flu strains.

In an article that first appeared on The Conversation, Marietjie Venter from the department of Medical Virology at the University of Pretoria advised everybody to get the influenza vaccine. While it won’t protect people from Covid-19, it will reduce influenza-related illness and in effect ease stress on health services during this pandemic.

Every year seasonal influenza kills roughly between 6 000 and 11 000 people in South Africa. The symptoms of influenza are similar to those caused by Covid-19, which include a fever, a cough (usually dry), muscle aches, sore throat, headaches and a runny nose. 

While it is advised to get your flu shot before the flu season starts, the vaccine can still be effective if you get it later during winter. 

A study conducted in Wuhan, China suggested that influenza and Covid-19 co-infections could result in more severe symptoms in high-risk patients and complicate the diagnosis.

Flu vaccines are able to prevent severe infections requiring hospitalisation by up to 60%.

To receive your flu vaccination, you can visit your local pharmacy or doctor. It is advised to phone the healthcare provider beforehand to ensure the vaccine is available.

The flu shot has a good chance of protecting you from the annual influenza virus, and if it does it you could be avoiding unnecessary doctors’ visits.

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