Free flu vaccinations offered

2019-05-30 06:01

A total of 14 500 influenza vaccinations are available at health facilities of the City of Cape Town.

An additional 26 500 vaccinations are also available at provincial health-care facilities, as national legislation requires that both local and provincial health facilities avail and administer these during the winter months.

Preference will, however, be given to vulnerable groups such as expectant women, HIV-infected people, adults and children with illnesses such as chronic lung disease, asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, kidney and liver disorders, and cancer.

People older than 65, especially people who reside in old age homes, are also recognised as a vulnerable group.

“We are all susceptible to flu, which is why it is so important that we get vaccinated,” said Zahid Badroodien, Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health.

“The vaccine that protects against the most flu viruses is safe, and the best time to get vaccinated is before the start of winter. The sooner those in vulnerable groups approach their local clinic to get vaccinated, the better.”

Flu vaccines are available free of charge at most of council health facilities; once administered, it will provide protection that lasts between six to eight months. Although most people who have been vaccinated won’t contract the influenza virus, they are still susceptible to the common cold.

Vaccination also reduces the risk of a patient being hospitalised, as flu symptoms can lead to more serious bacterial infections if not treated timeously.

Apart from vaccination, City Health also implements various preventative awareness programmes to assist in minimising the risk of contracting influenza, such as advocating good hand hygiene.

This includes small daily actions such as washing your hands regularly and not touching or rubbing your eyes. Also, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing to prevent germs from spreading.

Clinics are also geared towards treating flu and related infections where they occur.

“It is often asked if one should be vaccinated when one experiences flu symptoms,” Badroodien explained, “but this will unfortunately not clear the infection, as the vaccine could take up to two weeks to develop antibodies. Prevention is better than cure. Vaccination is most effective when it is administered preventatively.

“Parents play an important part in ensuring that their children are vaccinated. We call on community organisations to help us ensure that the vulnerable groups have the opportunity to be vaccinated.”

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