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Flu season is around the corner: Five good reasons to get your flu vaccine today

Press release -

Flu season is around the corner: Five good reasons to get your flu vaccine today

Influenza (flu) season is around the corner and this year’s flu vaccine is available to protect us against the flu strains that are expected to circulate and make people sick.

“Having our flu vaccine lowers our risk of becoming sick with flu - or seriously ill with flu if we are in the high-risk group for this and also limits the spread of infection to others,” says Dr Noluthando Nematswerani, Chief Clinical Officer at Discovery Health.

“Flu is caused by a virus which spreads through respiratory droplets released by the body when we breathe out, talk, cough or sneeze.”

“Most people who get flu experience mild illness with symptoms like fever, a dry cough, headaches, muscle and joint pains, a sore throat or runny nose. But for some, the flu can result in very serious illness and complications, which can see them admitted to hospital.”

The flu vaccine prevents tens of thousands hospitalizations each year. Furthermore, the flu vaccine lowers one’s risk of intensive care unit (ICU) admission by 26% and lowers risk of mortality by 31%, according to a research study published in the Vaccine Journal in 2021. In another study published in 2022, flu vaccines were shown to reduce a child’s risk of severe life-threatening influenza by 75%.

Here’s why you should get your flu vaccine

Dr Nematswerani shares five good reasons to get your flu vaccine:

  1. Having your flu vaccine is the best way to lower your risk of becoming sick with flu to begin with. "In general, flu vaccines are about 40 to 60% effective in preventing flu illness in healthy adults. This is a very good degree of protection, which we would not have without the vaccine," Dr Nematswerani explains.
  2. If you do catch flu after you’re vaccinated, you'll recover faster. This means you're not infectious for as long, which helps limit the spread of infection to others.
  3. If you live with a person who is at high-risk of serious flu illness, the vaccine will also help miminise the risk of spreading the flu to them.
  4. If you're at a high risk of developing serious influenza complications - like bronchitis or pneumonia - this vaccine is a must in lowering your risk.
  5. If you were vaccinated in the past, it is important to take the flu vaccine that becomes available every flu season as flu viruses change quickly. The vaccines are made to match each year’s new flu variants as closely as possible.

So, who is at high risk of developing serious influenza illness?

These groups of people are most at risk of getting serious flu:

  • Children aged six months to five years.
  • People aged 65 or over.
  • People living with HIV.
  • People who are pregnant or six weeks after childbirth. Keep in mind that the flu vaccine is safe to have while breastfeeding.
  • People living in care facilities (old-age homes, or chronic care and rehabilitation institutions).
  • People who have a chronic health condition (like asthma, heart or kidney disease, diabetes and others).
  • People who have a weakened immune system from other reasons not already mentioned.

Get vaccinated just before or as early into the flu season as possible

The flu season typically runs from the first week of June but can be as early as end of April to the end of August.

“To get the full benefits of the flu vaccine, you should get vaccinated before the start of the flu season or as early as possible into the season,” says Dr Nematswerani. “Ideally, you should get vaccinated as soon as the 2023 flu vaccine becomes available, however, you will still benefit from the protection vaccination brings, if you have your vaccine at any point during the flu season.”

“Keep in mind that it takes about two weeks after your flu jab to develop antibodies to the flu. These antibodies protect against infection and serious illness.”

“The flu vaccine cannot cause the flu because it does not contain a live virus. Some people get sick after their vaccination, but it’s not the vaccine that causes this. It’s more likely that they were exposed to the flu virus before they were vaccinated, or just after their vaccination during the two weeks needed to develop antibodies. We can also get other illnesses, like the common cold and COVID-19, that can have similar symptoms to the flu.”

Additional important information around the flu vaccine

“Speak to your doctor if you have had any allergic reaction to the flu vaccine in the past or if you have ever had Guillain-Barré syndrome,” adds Dr Nematswerani.

“If you have a moderate or severe illness with a fever, wait until you feel better before having a flu vaccine. Children younger than six months and people with severe, life-threatening allergies to any ingredient in a flu vaccine (other than egg proteins) should not have this vaccine.”

Why we shouldn't take antibiotics to treat flu:

Dr Nematswerani explains: "Flu is an illness caused by a virus. This means antibiotics - which are designed to treat illnesses caused by bacteria - should not be used to treat flu unless it gets worse and there are signs of a secondary infection that is a bacterial illness. Your healthcare provider will guide you on this. Misuse of antibiotics gives the bugs, that make us sick, a chance to develop resistance to these important medicines, and antibiotic resistance is a very serious problem on a global scale."

Find out how your medical scheme covers the flu jab

Medical schemes, such as Discovery Health Medical Scheme (DHMS), provide cover for flu injections, either from the available day-to-day benefits or chronic benefits.

“DHMS pays for one seasonal flu vaccine a year for members who are at a high risk of getting severe flu illness,” says Dr Nematswerani. “If you are considered at high risk, your flu shot will be covered from the Screening and Prevention Benefit[GF1] . If you are not considered to be at high risk, your flu shot is covered from your available day-to-day benefits, if these are part of your plan option.”

Where can you get your flu vaccine?

Book a visit at your healthcare provider or nearest pharmacy for your shot. Call them before you go to make sure they have the flu vaccine in stock.

Here’s the take-home message

“Flu vaccines are safe, and they protect us and others against developing serious flu-related illness. They are available at local clinics, doctors’ rooms and at most pharmacies. Get yours as soon as you can to support your health through the flu season, and lower the spread of the flu to others,” concludes Dr Nematswerani.




Discovery information

About Discovery

Discovery Limited is a South African-founded financial services organisation that operates in the healthcare, life assurance, short-term insurance, banking, savings and investment and wellness markets. Since inception in 1992, Discovery has been guided by a clear core purpose – to make people healthier and to enhance and protect their lives. This has manifested in its globally recognised Vitality Shared-Value insurance model, active in 40 markets with over 30 million members. The model is exported and scaled through the Global Vitality Network, an alliance of some of the largest insurers across key markets including AIA (Asia), Ping An (China), Generali (Europe), Sumitomo (Japan), John Hancock (US), Manulife (Canada) and Vitality Life & Health (UK, wholly owned). Discovery trades on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange as DSY.

Follow us on Twitter @Discovery_SA


Karishma Jivan

Karishma Jivan

Press contact Reputation Consultant Healthcare & Sustainability
Lianne Osterberger

Lianne Osterberger

Press contact Special Projects: Reputation Management 083 27 27 313