Why you should get a flu shot this winter

No one has time to get sick. That’s why Bloom encourages preventative measures when it comes to treatable illnesses, like the flu. Influenza, or flu, is an infectious respiratory infection caused by a virus. It’s spread by coming into contact with an infected person or surface area. Flu is far more serious than the common cold and, if left untreated, can lead to life-threatening conditions, like pneumonia. Between 6000-11,000 South Africans die from the flu each year, half of which are elderly people.

Flu circulation is seasonal and tends to be more prevalent during our winter months with ‘flu season’ starting in the first week of June and lasting for about 12 weeks. Getting a flu vaccine will help protect you from infection, which is why the Health4Me health insurance plan covers the cost of flu vaccines for members at several approved partner pharmacies.

Flu facts you should know

  • The flu is contagious before symptoms start. That means you can infect someone (or get infected) before you show signs of infection.
  • Flu symptoms start abruptly and rapidly. You can feel fine one day and absolutely terrible the next day.
  • It takes up to two weeks for the flu vaccine to start working, which is why we suggest that you get your flu shot as early as possible.
  • You need to get a flu vaccine shot each year. This is because the virus undergoes changes.
  • The flu vaccine doesn’t cause flu. Contrary to some popular misconceptions, the flu vaccination won’t cause an infection. Instead, it allows your body to develop antibodies.
  • The flu can cause life-threatening secondary complications and make chronic conditions worse

What are the symptoms of flu?

Flu symptoms vary in severity and type, but you may experience the following if you have the virus:

  • Fever
  • Congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

Understanding the difference between a cold and flu

Viruses cause both colds and flu. They are both respiratory infections and both are very contagious. However, a cold tends to be less severe than the flu. You can also develop a cold at any time during the year. While a cold might make you feel a bit run down, the flu commands serious bedrest and convalescence. Another easy way to tell the difference is that colds tend to develop gradually and last about 10 days whereas the flu develops quickly and severely, lasting about two weeks.

Symptoms of a common cold include:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Sneezing or coughing
  • Mild tiredness

Who is at greatest risk for developing flu?

Anyone can get the flu, but some people are more susceptible than others. These include:

  • Children and babies under five years of ag4 whose immune systems are not fully developed yet.
  • People over 60 years of age, especially those who have a chronic illness, like lung or heart disease.
  • Pregnant women are more at risk because, during pregnancy, the body undergoes changes to the immune system, heart and lungs.
  • People with weakened or compromised immune systems, like those living with Tuberculosis (TB) or HIV/AIDS.
  • People with a chronic illness, like diabetes or asthma.

How to avoid getting the flu

The most effective preventative measure you can take is to get a flu vaccination. This will aid in strengthening your immune system and will protect you from the virus.

There are also some other precautions you can take to safeguard yourself. These include:

  • Practising clean habits, like regular hand washing with soap and water or by using hand sanitiser frequently
  • Wiping down surfaces with disinfectant
  • Covering up when coughing or sneezing
  • Using disposable tissues to minimise infection
  • Practising social distancing
  • Avoiding touching your nose, mouth or eyes
  • Getting a good eight hours of sleep each night
  • Sticking to a healthy eating plan and regular exercise

Who should not get a flu shot?

While it’s recommended that almost everyone receive an annual flu shot (especially in winter), there are always exceptions to the rule. There are certain groups of people who should not get shots. These include:

  • Babies younger than six months
  • Those who are allergic to the flu vaccine or its components
  • People who already have a fever

Where can I go to get a flu shot?

Visit one of our partner pharmacy clinics to get your annual flu shot:

  • Dis-Chem
  • Clicks
  • MediRite
  • Pick n Pay Pharmacy

For more information, you can contact these pharmacy brands directly.

  • Dis-Chem – you can walk-in or pre-book a flu shot at one of Dis-Chem’s Wellness Clinics with a qualified nursing practitioner at 0861 117 427 or direct enquiries to clinicqueries@dischem.co.za
  • Clicks – you can get a flu vaccination at any one of their 400 pharmacy clinics. Contact them at 0860 254 257 for more information or visit the vaccine portal clinicbookings.clicks.co.za to pre-book an appointment
  • MediRite – there are MediRite Clinics at 90 Checkers Stores and 56 Shoprite Stores countrywide. Contact them at 0800 222 617 for more information

Which Health4Me options cover the flu vaccine cost?

The Health4Me Bronze, Health4Me Silver and Health4Me Gold health insurance plans all cover an annual influenza vaccination for each member on the plan. Flu injection prices vary between R69.99 and R87.

Keeping you healthy all year

At Bloom we’re committed to healthy living and good health. We encourage our members to make healthy lifestyle choices and decisions when it comes to combating disease and infections, like flu. Get in touch with one of our expert broker consultants for a free health insurance quote and sign-up for health insurance cover for yourself and your family.

Medical Content Disclaimer

You understand and acknowledge that all users of the Bloom website are responsible for their own medical care, treatment, and oversight. All content provided on the website, is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Neither is it intended to be a substitute for an independent professional medical opinion, judgement, diagnosis or treatment.

dr korangteng peprah obstetrician and gynaecologist

Dr Bianca Lewarne

General Practitioner
MBChB, University of Witwatersrand

011 803-9392


This content has been reviewed and approved by Dr Bianca Lewarne. She is a General Practitioner in family medicine in Sandton, Johannesburg.
Dr Lewarne is registered with the Health Professions Council South Africa (HPCSA).

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