Flu Vaccine- Quick facts.

Flu Vaccine- Quick facts.

We`ve been getting quite a few questions lately regarding the flu vaccine. So, we thought we`d compile a quick facts sheet to answer some of the most frequently asked.

South Africa experiences Influenza epidemics every winter. Despite effective vaccines being available the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) estimates that between 3-5 million cases of severe illness leading to hospitalization, and between 250 0-500 000 deaths are reported worldwide, each year.

  1. Why should I get vaccinated?
  2. First, but most importantly, the single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year. Although most of us recover from flu rather quickly (i.e. 4-14days) influenza is a potentially serious disease and as mentioned above can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Vaccination has been proven to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and flu related deaths, especially in children.

  3. How does it work?
  4. The flu vaccine causes antibodies to develop within the body about 2 weeks after the vaccination. these antibodies help us fight off the virus when exposed.

  5. Who should get vaccinated?
  6. EVERYONE aged 6 months and older can be vaccinated every flu season. Vaccination is particularly important for those at high risk of serious complications of influenza namely,
    • 65 years and older
    • Young children
    • Pregnant woman
    • Chronic diseases- Diabetes, Cardiac conditions, COPD, Asthma
    • Immunocompromised individuals- HIV/AIDS, Malignancy, Immunosuppressive
    • medication

  7. Why do I need a flu vaccine every year?
  8. Yearly vaccination is recommended for 2 reasons. First, the flu virus is constantly changing, and the vaccine is reviewed each year to ensure it is kept up to date with the changing virus. Second, our body’s response to the vaccine declines over time, so it’s best to get vaccinated yearly to ensure optimal response.

  9. Can I get the Flu from the Vaccine?
  10. The vaccine does not contain the any live viruses, so it’s not possible to get the flu from the vaccine. Some people may have side effects from the vaccine. Pain and redness at the injection site (most common) Muscle pain/tiredness Mild fever Important to know that these are side effects from the vaccine, not the flu.

  11. Who should seek medical advice before getting the vaccine?
  12. People who have had previous allergic or adverse reactions to the flu vaccine. Anyone with an allergy to eggs If you are not feeling well or have a fever Previous history of paralysing illness (i.e.: Guillain-Barre Syndrome)

  13. When should I get the Vaccine?
  14. You should ideally get vaccinated before the flu season starts, as it takes 2 weeks for protective antibodies to form. Although the timing of Influenza season can vary, it mostly occurs during the winter months (May-August).
However, it’s never too late to vaccinate!!

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Types of influenza viruses (updated 27 Sep 2017). https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/viruses/types.htm(accessed Mar 2019).

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