For many, June is holiday time but it is also flu time.

While holidays will no doubt have more exciting things in store than a visit to your GP or pharmacist, June is not too late to have a flu injection. If we look at the WHO (World Health Organisation) outlook for influenza, we see a general decrease globally but an increase of flu detections in South Africa. It’s not a bad idea to take an hour or so out of your holidays and have a flu vaccine, especially when one considers that, according to the National Department of Health, flu kills between 6 000 – 11 000 South Africans each year.

How will a flu vaccine help me?

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) offers some very solid reasons for getting a flu vaccine as it can:

  • Keep you from getting sick with flu.
  • Reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalisation
  • Be life-saving for children
  • Reduce the severity of flu for those vaccinated but still get sick
  • Prevent serious medical events associated with certain chronic conditions
  • Help to protect women during and after pregnancy
  • Protect people around you – work colleagues, babies, older people, family and friends.

There are certainly good reasons to get the flu vaccine but can side effects ruin one’s holiday?

The CDC notes that as with any medical product, vaccines can cause side effects. Generally, side effects are mild and go away on their own within a few days.

  • Soreness, redness and/ or swelling
  • Headache, fever
  • Nausea
  • Muscle aches

Some studies have found a possible but small association of injectable flu vaccine with Guillain-Barre (GBS) but the risk of this is low, found to be 1 or 2 cases per one million.

For more information, please talk to your GP or pharmacist about a flu vaccine these holidays.…/339-national-influenza-policy-and-strategy-plan