Cut your pneumonia risk

Pneumonia is one of the leading causes of death in South Africa, so it is worth knowing more about this disease – and how to prevent it.

Common symptoms of pneumonia include:

  • Fever of 38.5°C or more with chills or shaking
  • Cough, which often produces sputum from the airways, with phlegm that is green or rusty, occasionally with blood specks
  • Night sweats
  • Shallow, rapid breathing and rapid heart rate
  • Chest pain, which is worsened on inhalation or coughing, and may be only on one side and felt deep in the chest
  • Tiredness, body weakness (general malaise), confusion (particularly in the elderly)

These symptoms depend on age and other underlying health problems. In elderly people, symptoms may be much less obvious. Shortness of breath isn’t easy to spot, but may be suspected when talking becomes interrupted and difficult.

Take action
Prevention is always better than cure, so it’s important to take care of your health throughout the year and especially during winter. One way to do this is to get vaccinated. Vaccines are available to help protect you against the most common bacterial cause of pneumonia. While these vaccines may not always prevent pneumonia, they may prevent serious complications.


The Scheme’s Health Screening Benefits cover a pneumococcal vaccine per beneficiary over age 18 every five years, if they are considered to be at risk. This would apply to elderly beneficiaries, smokers, diabetics and asthmatics, or those with cancer, bronchitis, liver/kidney/heart failure, recurrent lung diseases or wasting and debilitating illnesses. To save potential consultation fees, get your flu vaccine at a Network pharmacy.