Flu and Medical Aid

December 17, 2021

Gerhard Van Emmenis, Principal Officer of Bonitas Medical Fund gives five facts about flu:

1.  Flu strains, like fashion, change every year

The latest influenza strain South Africa can expect is nick-named ‘Aussie Flu’. This particular strain – H3N2 – is a subtype of influenza A. The virus has, in fact, been around for a whilebut unfortunately the various strains have a built in survival mechanism, they mutate or change so they outwit the body’s immune response. Which is why each year flu vaccinations are updated, meaning last year’s won’t necessarily protect you this year.

2. The symptoms of flu?

These include high temperatures, body pain, sore throat, tiredness, loss of appetite and are the same year in and year out. However, some strains may cause the symptoms to last for a longer time and be more severe. Influenza also bring on headaches, muscle pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. In people with weaker immune systems, influenza is even more serious.

3. The flu shot doesn’t gives you flu

According to the Centre for Disease Control, ‘A flu shot cannot cause influenza and serious allergic reactions to the influenza vaccine are rare. However, if you are allergic to eggs you need to notify your doctor.

Flu vaccines are currently made either with influenz vaccine viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ and are not infectious or with no viruses at all. The most common side-effects from the shot are small amounts of soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling around the injection site.

Flu vaccines and medical aid

4. Protecting yourself and your family

The influenza vaccine reduces your chances of getting flu and, if you do get it, it will be milder.The vaccine trains your body to recognise flu and fight it. More importantly, if you are vaccinated you will protect others, via what is called ’herd immunity’. This includes vulnerable members of the family such as such as small babies and the elderly as well as those who are immune-compromised.

5. Some of the reasons people don’t vaccinate

Every year there is a debate about influenza injections yet up to 11 000 people die from influenza in South Africa every year, despite the flu vaccination being readily available and paid for by most medical aid schemes.  There are a number of reasons, including the notion that:  ‘I don’t get flu’, ‘the vaccine doesn’t work’, ‘it will hurt my arm’ or ‘the vaccine will make me sick’.  However, according to Bonitas, there are very good clinical reasons why you should.

Bonitas covers one influenza vaccine for all members. Members can go Clicks, Dischem or Pick n Pay pharmacies for the vaccine at no cost, or attend a Bonitas Wellness Day.

Enhance your medical aid by getting gap cover. Apply on this page. Complete and submit the form on this page to get a quick no-obligation quote. Act now! (Note: gap insurance is for
current medical scheme members only.


All info was correct at time of publishing