As a well-entrenched preventative care measure, getting the annual seasonal flu vaccine is considered to be one of the most beneficial ways to protect your health. This year, as flu season quickly approaches, many medical scheme members are wondering whether the same rule applies in light of the ongoing pandemic. CEO and Principal Officer of CompCare Medical Scheme,
Josua Joubert, examines the importance of the ‘flu jab’ in 2021
Any medical scheme worth its salt offers a seasonal influenza vaccine as part of its preventative health benefits. The reason for this is a good one – an estimate of between 7 000 and 12 000 recorded influenza-associated deaths take place annually in South Africa, according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. The number of influenza-related doctor’s visits and hospitalisations is infinitely higher than this, placing a considerable burden on the country’s healthcare system.
Some may argue that these numbers do not sound particularly significant in a national population of 58 million, but it would be a mistake to take a casual approach towards the ‘seasonal flu’, as it is often called. Just as is the case with Covid-19, not everyone is badly affected – yet by contracting the flu we all have the potential to pass it on to a vulnerable individual, which could have fatal consequences. Needless to say, no one would wish to wait until being personally affected before taking preventative action.
With this in mind, healthcare professionals country-wide are continuing to encourage South Africans to have their annual flu shot in order to help reduce the number of infections, even and especially during the pandemic. While there is no real evidence to suggest that this can improve one’s chances against Covid-19, it certainly does help to prevent becoming very ill with seasonal influenza and can furthermore assist in alleviating the pressure on healthcare facilities at a time when they are more heavily over-burdened than ever before.
In consulting with their healthcare providers, medical scheme members will be advised that it is best not to receive the seasonal influenza and the Covid-19 vaccinations too close together but that a two-week period between the two is recommended. This will go a long way in alleviating any healthcare concerns medical scheme members may have while ensuring that active preventative measures continue to be taken in the face of viral flu.
As the year progresses and the Government-led Covid-19 vaccination rollout continues, CompCare is keeping a firm finger on the pulse in preparation to contact members at the appropriate time with the relevant information, such as when and how they can register to be vaccinated.
In the meantime however, CompCare encourages all members to avail themselves of the annual flu vaccination benefit as we head into winter. Now is the time for us all to stay on top of our health and make the most of the cooler months, whilst bolstering the wellness of our communities and playing an important part in reducing the pressure on the healthcare system.