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Arm yourself against flu this winter

- Wits University

The flu season is upon us and several institutions are reporting an increase in the number of flu cases, says Higher Health.

The flu vaccine reduces chances of serious illness

Get your flu shot! Despite what you may hear, they don't give you the flu. They're made of harmless versions of flu virus to help your body recognize and fight it if exposed to the real thing.

What is influenza or flu?

Influenza, or flu, can be caused by three different virus types: influenza A, influenza B, and influenza C. There is uncomplicated flu and complicated flu.

Uncomplicated influenza:

ILI (Influenza-like illness) may present with fever, cough, sore throat, coryza, headache, malaise, myalgia, arthralgia, and sometimes gastrointestinal symptoms, but without any features of complicated influenza.

Complicated influenza:

Influenza requiring hospital admission and/or with symptoms and signs of lower respiratory tract infection (hypoxaemia, dyspnoea, tachypnoea, lower chest wall indrawing and inability to feed), central nervous system involvement and/or a significant exacerbation of an underlying medical condition.

How do flu vaccines work?

Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies (fighter cells) provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.

The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Because the flu virus change (mutation) as it is passed along from one person to another, the vaccine needs to be changed every season as well.

 Those with severe allergy to chicken eggs should avoid the flu vaccine.

Why should people be vaccinated?  

 Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and some cases, death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalised and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. Read tips on tips on how to stay healthy in winter and foods to eat. Higher Health​ has expressed concern about the rising number of students with flu at universities. ​

Who should be vaccinated?

 Vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza.

    • Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
    • Adults 65 years of age and older
    • Pregnant women (and women up to two weeks after the birth of the baby)
    • Residents of long-term care facilities such as old age homes
    • Individuals with tuberculosis

Persons of any age group with a chronic disease:

                  • Pulmonary diseases (e.g. asthma, COPD)
                  • Immunosuppression (e.g. persons on immunosuppressive medication, malignancy)
                  • Cardiac diseases (e.g. congestive cardiac failure), except for hypertension
                  • Metabolic disorders (e.g. diabetes mellitus)
                  • Renal disease
                  • Hepatic disease
                  • Neurologic and neurodevelopmental conditions
                  • Haemoglobinopathies (e.g. sickle cell disease
                  • Weakened immune system due to disease or medication (such as people with HIV or AIDS, or cancer, or those on chronic steroids)
                  • People younger than ≤18 years of age who are receiving long- term aspirin therapy
                  • People with extreme obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or more)

Learn more: Influenza Fact Sheet​.

For confidential assistance on physical health matters and other wellbeing concerns, contact Life Health Solutions, the University's new employee wellness partner.

 Toll-free: 0800 004 770, SMS your name to 31581, E​​​mail: