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Should you vaccinate?

With winter just around the corner one cannot help but think about the possibility of getting the flu.

The impact this can have on you and your family is great and no one wants to face the flu if it can be avoided...
The flu is caused by the influenza virus. It spreads from one person to another through droplet distribution and causes fever, body and muscle pains, headaches and teary eyes to name but a few symptoms.

In complex cases it could lead to pneumonia and neurological complications - where hospitalization is required. As a doctor and mother I am constantly on the lookout for ways to protect my family. A flu vaccination remains the primary method to prevent flu. The South African flu season occurs during the winter months (primarily from the first week of June), but it can even start as early as the first week of April. It takes 2 weeks for the body to create a protection reaction against the vaccine - thus you can get a vaccination as early as March or April, but it is never too late to get the vaccination during the season. The flu vaccination is an inactive vaccination - in other words there isn't a living virus in the vaccination. It has a very good safety record.

Roughly 16-20% of people that are vaccinated can have a local reaction on their arms for about 1-2 days. Short-term responses of fever and muscle pain will take effect within the first few hours after the reported vaccination within a small percentage of people. It doesn’t cause flu but there is no guarantee that you can’t get flu.

Yearly vaccination: The World Health Organisation makes annual recommendations as to which variation of the influenza virus must be included within the vaccination seeing as the influenza virus regularly changes. This is why it’s so important that a person receives annual vaccines against the flu.

Who must be vaccinated: It’s strongly recommended that the following people must be vaccinated as they have a higher risk of contracting a more complicated form of the flu:

• Pregnant women (dependant on the trimester) – there is evidence that the vaccine will protect the mother and baby as long as 6 months after the birth
• Kids from the age of 6 months to 5 years (kids can be vaccinated from the age of 6 months).
• Health consultants (to protect themselves)
• People with chronic illnesses like diabetes, chronic kidney or lung complications, immune suppressive illness like HIV
• People over the age of 65, as long as you don’t fall under one of these high risk groups it’s still highly recommended that you are vaccinated so that the risk of others like children under the age of 6 months are protected.

Contra indications

The following people may not receive the vaccination:

• If you have had an anaphylactic reaction due to prior vaccinations or on one of the ingredients namely: egg protein.
• Children under 6 months
• People with moderate to severe sickness, with or without the flu, should preferably wait until they are better before they are vaccinated.

Protect your hubby, kids, granny and grandpa by considering the annual flu vaccination this winter.

Should you have any questions or concerns contact your doctor or clinic sister.

Article by By Dr Christa Rocher