Flu in high risk individuals
Was this helpful?
ContentsBack to top
DID YOU KNOW?Back to top
- The elderly (>65 years) and young children (particularly <2 years of age) are at high risk for severe flu.2
- If you have a chronic illness (e.g. Cardiac disease/Diabetes/HIV/TB) or a weak immune system, you are at high risk for complications from flu.2
- The flu can trigger cardiovascular complications and causes the deaths of over 11 000 people in South Africa every year
- Changes in the immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy make pregnant woman more prone to severe illness from flu, including illness resulting in hospitalisation.4
- With the COVID-19 pandemic placing pressure on our healthcare systems, it is more important than ever to get vaccinated.5
INFLUENZA AND YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEMBack to top
It has been recognized for many years now that the immune system weakens as we age, reducing our body’s ability to fight infection, no matter how fit we may be.2,3
That’s why people aged 65 and over are more at risk of developing serious complications from an influenza infection.3,4 Complications can include pneumonia, serious cardiovascular events such as heart attack or stroke, and worsening of underlying chronic illnesses (heart, pulmonary and metabolic diseases like diabetes).5,6
OLDER ADULTS CAN BE AT A GREATER RISK OF INFLUENZA COMPLICATIONSBack to top
If you are 65 years and older, you are at an increased risk to suffer from severe complications of an influenza infection.3
2 out of 3 influenza related hospitalisations occurred among people 65 years and older.7
1 in 3 adults above 70 years hospitalised for an acute illness, such as influenza, fully recovered after one year.8
Vaccination is the most effective way to protect against influenza and reduce the risk of its complications.9 Older adults (65 years and above) are recommended to receive an influenza vaccination every year to stay protected.3,9
Influenza vaccines are well tolerated. As with any vaccines, side effects can occur but these are generally mild.10
WHY SHOULD YOU GET VACCINATED FOR FLU?Back to top
Flu is more severe than we may think. Each year it causes:
Over 11,000 deaths in South Africa2
- SEVERE ILLNESS
Over 47,000 South Africans get seriously sick2
Almost 50% of South Africans who get seriously sick from flu, need to be admitted to hospital2
DO I STILL NEED A FLU VACCINE IF I’VE HAD THE COVID-19 VACCINE?Back to top
Yes! The flu vaccine protects against infection from influenza viruses, while COVID-19 vaccines protect against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.6
Vaccinate against flu to: 7
- Reduce illness from flu
- Reduce the need to visit the doctor
- Reduce the severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick
- Reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization
- Reduce the risk of hospitalisation in pregnant women
- Protect people around you who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.
As per current guidelines, the flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine should be given at least 14 days apart, in no particular order.* Guidelines are subject to change, please check with your healthcare provider
MYTHSBack to top
Myth: I don’t have to get the flu vaccine every year.
Fact: Flu viruses change constantly. The flu vaccine is updated annually to protect against the viruses that are expected to be most common during each flu season9
Flu vaccines only work in our bodies for a certain amount of time. For both these reasons you must be vaccinated every year.9,10
Myth: I got the flu vaccine and still got sick so it does not work.
Fact: The vaccine contains inactive viruses so it cannot make you sick. Sometimes you might get other viruses that are circulating that could be mistaken for flu.8
Myth: I am pregnant, so it is not safe for me to get the flu vaccine.
Fact: Pregnant women are at high risk for developing complicated flu. The flu vaccine can be used at any stage of pregnancy and protects the baby against flu infection for several months after it is born.2,8
More information on FLU IN YOUNG CHILDREN
Was this helpful?
For more health information
Click on the body area you want to know more about. Select a related health topic from the menu
There has been a steady increase in the number of flu cases reported recently. This is unusual because the flu season usually runs from March to September.1 In 2019 there were only 8 reported cases of flu between October and December, while in 2021 there were 277 cases reported during the same period.2 Was this helpful? Submit Cancel Thanks for your feedback!