FACT: Influenza, commonly referred to as “flu”, is more than a bad cold; it is a severe and sometimes life-threatening disease due to serious complications that can result from influenza infection. In the US alone, it causes an average of 36 000 deaths and approximately 200 000 hospitalizations each year. You can avoid getting flu by getting vaccinated each year.
FACT: Influenza affects a lot of people each year. Some people do not get severely affected but others do. Every year that you didn’t vaccinate, you took a chance with your life. The fact that 36 000 people die each year, is proof that influenza can kill.
FACT: The injectable vaccine contains killed virus particles, so it is impossible to get influenza from the vaccine. Side-effects that may occur in some people include mild soreness, redness, swelling at the injection site, headache or a low-grade fever. These symptoms may last from 24-48 hours. Flu however will confine you to bed for much longer and can lead to serious, life-threatening complications e.g. pneumonia, bronchitis.
Vaccination is the best way to prevent influenza and its complications.
FACT: The types of influenza viruses circulating in the community change from year to year. Because of this, each year a new vaccine is manufactured according to the strains that are expected to be circulating. It is important to get vaccinated against influenza every year.
FACT: Minor illness with or without fever should not prevent vaccination. People with chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease have a higher risk of developing serious complications if they catch flu. These individuals should be immunized each year. People who have a moderate or severe illness with fever should wait for their symptoms to lessen before getting vaccinated. Individuals with severe allergies to eggs or those who have had previous vaccine-associated allergic reactions should avoid immunization.
Talk to your healthcare provider if you are not sure whether to have a flu shot or not.
FACT: Influenza affects people of all ages.
FACT: It is never too late to get vaccinated. The best time to get vaccinated is before the flu season but vaccination during the flu season is still beneficial as the virus circulates well into winter. The flu seasons vary in terms of length and severity.
For more information speak to your healthcare provider. Flu vaccines are now available at all Intercare Centres. Visit the web site at www.intercare.co.za  to find the closest Intercare to you.