Why having your flu vaccine this year is more important than ever before!

In view of the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic, experts advise that we all have a flu vaccine (and some of us have the pneumococcal vaccine) this year. This is why:

  • The more people are vaccinated against the flu, the less flu (and flu-related complications) there would be. We tend to underestimate just how dangerous flu can be, but it is estimated that around five million people worldwide catch flu each year, resulting in almost 650 000 deaths. With less flu going around, there would also be more medical resources available to potential patients with COVID-19, which has no vaccine. We will not be conducting other Health Risk Assessments at this time and will delay these until later in the year.
  • Flu and COVID-19 have the same basic symptoms, such as fever and coughing. If you don’t have a flu vaccine this year and then get the flu, you may be flagged as a potential COVID-19 case. It is advisable to not put yourself under such unnecessary stress, so rather focus on keeping your immune system healthy and consider getting a flu vaccination.

More about flu and pneumonia, and how the Scheme can help:

FLU

The flu virus adapts every year, so last year’s flu vaccination will not help prevent you getting this year’s flu virus.  Many people feel that they are healthy enough to skip the flu vaccine, or even believe that it can make them ill. Please see this article for common flu myths and truths to help you make an informed decision.

HOW THE SCHEME CAN HELP

The Scheme’s Health Screening Benefits cover one flu vaccine (excluding Vaxigrip Tetra®*) per beneficiary per year from your Health Screening Benefits. Vaxigrip Tetra® is not funded because it is significantly more expensive due to the fact that four influenza strains (three A influenza strains and one B influenza strain; versus other products’ three A influenza strains) are covered. However, as the most recent WHO report on seasonal influenza activity, between February and September 2019, indicated that influenza A was predominant in South Africa, with very few detections of influenza B, this is deemed wasteful. The standard flu vaccine will cover you for influenza A.

Please get your vaccine from a Nedgroup Network pharmacy such as Dis-Chem or Clicks, where it should be available shortly.

PNEUMONIA

Pneumonia is a life-threatening condition for especially older people, so it makes sense to safeguard against it by being vaccinated if you are aged 65 years or older.  Symptoms depend on age and other underlying health problems. In elderly people, symptoms may be much less obvious.

A pneumonia vaccine can help protect you against the most common bacterial cause of pneumonia, and your doctor will be able to advise which vaccine is most suitable for you (depending on your age and other risk factors). While this vaccine may not always prevent pneumonia, it may prevent serious complications.

HOW THE SCHEME CAN HELP

The Scheme’s Health Screening Benefits cover one pneumococcal vaccine per member or beneficiary aged 65+ every 5 years. (Please remember that any consultation fees are not covered from the Health Screening Benefits, but may be covered from other benefit limits, depending to which Plan you belong.)

Remember that prevention is always better than cure. You CAN reduce the risk of flu and pneumonia for yourself and your loved ones this winter by using the Scheme’s vaccination benefits!