Get winter-ready with the flu vaccine

Get winter-ready with the flu vaccine

13 March 2024

The Scheme pays for an annual flu vaccine from Risk for all beneficiaries on all options. That means a FREE flu vaccine for each family member once a year.

Influenza, commonly known as the “flu,” is an acute respiratory tract infection caused by influenza viruses. Three types of seasonal influenza viruses, A, B, and C, circulate during the South African flu season (around May to September). The viruses cause lower respiratory tract infections and, in severe cases, require hospitalisation.

But there are things that you can do to protect yourself and your family from the flu:

  1. Basic hygiene

Adopting these basic behaviours as part of your daily routine will help protect you and your family against the flu virus:
• Wash hands frequently
• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
• Practice respiratory hygiene
• If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care

  1. Getting a flu vaccine

Winter generally marks the onset of the flu season. The annual flu vaccination period, which starts at the end of March, has commenced. Please contact your pharmacy to confirm the flu vaccine is in stock.

Although the flu vaccine will not eliminate your risk of developing the flu, it will help to reduce your risk. Reducing your risk will assist with maintaining a stronger immune system, decreasing your risk of severe illness and hospitalisation.

Based on guidelines from the Department of Health, Fedhealth strongly recommends that the following vulnerable groups get vaccinated this year:
– healthcare workers
– people over the age of 65
– people with cardiovascular disease (including chronic heart disease, hypertension, stroke and diabetes) and chronic lung disease (including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
– pregnant women and people with HIV and AIDS.

Please note that the vaccine is NOT recommended for individuals who:
• Are allergic to eggs or egg proteins, as the manufacturing process for the vaccine involves the use of chicken eggs
• May have had a severe reaction to a flu vaccine in the past – if you’re unsure, discuss with your healthcare provider
• Maybe suffering from flu symptoms already
• Infants under six months, as the vaccines are not licensed for use in such young children

  1. Over-the-counter (OTC) cold and flu medication

Mild disease is usually best treated with OTC remedies that help with symptom management. Pain and fever are best managed with simple analgesics containing paracetamol.

OTC non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and diclofenac may also be recommended for pain and inflammation-related fever.

  1. Pneumonia vaccination

The pneumonia vaccine is recommended for individuals with a high risk of developing respiratory illnesses. The WHO advises that the available supply of pneumonia vaccines should be reserved for people at greatest risk of developing respiratory illness. The Scheme funds pneumonia vaccines for all beneficiaries over 65 from the screening benefit (once per lifetime) on all options except myFED and flexiFEDSavvy.

Chronic medication

If you are taking chronic medication to manage a medical condition, please continue taking your medicines regularly as advised by your healthcare practitioner. This will help keep you healthy and avoid unnecessary visits to your doctor or hospital.

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.

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