Campus Health Service would like to vaccinate as many staff and students as possible with the flu vaccine in 2020, due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the need to maintain the health of all staff and students of SU.
A flu shot won't prevent coronavirus, but it could help our response to the outbreak. Fewer cases of the flu mean more resources available to fight COVID-19. If people get their flu shots, fewer people come down with the flu and come into clinics with symptoms such as fever and cough, which overlap with the symptoms of COVID-19. Having fewer flu patients will make it easier to find the patients with COVID-19. Higher vaccination rates would make us much more efficient in detecting coronavirus cases.
In South Africa, flu circulation is highly seasonal and circulates during the winter. The average season starts during the first week of June; however, it could start as early as April or as late as July. For the South Africa influenza season, the optimal time for vaccination is around March/April each year. The vaccine is effective after 10 to 14 days, so it is important that the vaccine is administered in time for the flu season.
We urge people to consider the flu vaccination - it is the most effective way to prevent influenza as it provides immune protection against the viruses that cause influenza. The flu vaccine stimulates your body's immune system to make antibodies to attack the flu virus. Antibodies are proteins that recognize and fight off germs, such as viruses, that have invaded your blood. Protection from the influenza vaccine is thought to persist for at least 6 months. Mild side effects from the flu vaccine include soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site, low-grade fever, fatigue and headache. The flu vaccine is considered safe. You can't catch the flu from the vaccine, because the virus in the vaccine has been killed or weakened.
Benefits of the flu vaccine
A yearly flu vaccine is the single best way to prevent the flu and its complications. Although vaccine effectiveness can vary from year to year, in general the vaccine can reduce doctors' visits for the flu by up to 60 percent.
The flu vaccine will
- lower your likelihood of getting sick. If you do catch the flu, it is likely to be milder than if you were not vaccinated.
- prevent serious flu-related complications like pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma attacks. That is why it is especially important for young children, the elderly, and anyone with chronic health conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease and diabetes mellitus to get vaccinated.
Who should avoid the flu vaccine?
The flu vaccine is very effective, but it is not right for everyone. Do not get the vaccine if
- you have had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient it contains, including egg protein.
- you have had Guillain-Barre syndrome.
Talk to your doctor if you have a weakened immune system, or if you take medicine to suppress your immune system. You may not respond as well to the vaccine. If you are sick, you might want to put off the flu shot until you feel better.
CHS has just received stock of the flu vaccine. Please contact CHS to make an appointment for the flu vaccination.
Staff can request for their entire department or unit to get the flu vaccine at their offices and student groups such as residences can request for a clinical nurse practitioner to administer the flu shot at their premises.
For staff: please discuss this with your line manager and contact the Occupational Health Nursing Practitioner, Sr. Anneke van Heerden on 021 808 3322 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For students: please discuss this with your Res Head and get them to contact Sr. Ronita February on 021 808 9290 or email email@example.com
If you would like to make an appointment at Campus Health Service for a flu vaccination, please call reception on 021 808 3494/6 (Stellenbosch Campus) or 021 938 9590 (Tygerberg Campus).