It's never too late to vaccinate

The annual seasonal flu vaccine is one of the best ways to help guard against flu. But, is it too late to get your vaccine?

27 June 2019
By Keri Harvey

A flu vaccination helps your body’s immune system to build up the resilience needed to fight off common winter flu viruses. Being vaccinated may prevent you from getting flu at all, or if you do get flu it should be a milder case that also doesn’t linger long. Without being vaccinated, it can take weeks for the body to fight the flu virus, and there is always the risk of secondary infections and complications – which definitely need to be avoided. 

Is it too late to get the flu vaccine?

“We start giving flu vaccinations from the end of March until about mid-June usually, but vaccinations can be given any time as it takes just a few days for them to have an effect,” says Clicks pharmacist Madri Botha. She recommends flu vaccinations for everyone over 65 years’ old, and also for pregnant women and children over six months old – who are given a half dose of the vaccine. Botha says that HIV positive patients on anti-retrovirals are encouraged to have flu vaccinations, but this does depend on their blood test results. However, people with already compromised immune systems, those undergoing chemotherapy treatment, patients who are already sick or have fevers are not given flu vaccinations as their immune systems would be strained. 

Do flu vaccines give you the flu?

There is a popular myth that flu vaccinations actually give you flu, but this is purportedly not the case at all. “The injection contains an inactive form of the flu virus, which your body recognises and then creates immunity against,” explains Botha. Still, if you receive a flu vaccination and feel a little sick afterwards, that is likely a sign that your immune system is kicking in to protect you from a potentially worse bout of flu. “These symptoms will be mild and short-lived compared to full-blown flu,” says Botha. 

What should you do if you get the flu?

Still, being vaccinated against flu is important as it stops the spread of the virus through communities, since fewer people are sick and infected with the flu virus. This all translates into a healthier and more productive society through the cold winter months. However, if you do get flu it’s important to stay home, wash your hands frequently to prevent the spread of the virus via surfaces at home, get plenty of rest and stay well hydrated by drinking lots of fluids. The rule of thumb is to be home for seven days after symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24-hours. Just be sure to have your doctor’s note in hand when you return to work.

Get your flu vaccine at your nearest Clicks Clinic today.

IMAGE CREDIT: 123rf.com