Study endorses flu jab option

Estelle Ellis

PORT Elizabeth pharmacies are already offering flu shots well ahead of winter with pharmacists urging high risk patients to get vaccinated well in advance of flu season.

Last week a new study conducted by researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Centre in New York in collaboration with Centre for Disease Control found that flu vaccination reduced the risk of flu-related hospitalisation by 71.4% among adults of all ages, and by 76.8% in those older than 50 years of age.

The study was done during the 2011-2012 flu season.

According to the study’s authors, the results of the study also provide additional evidence for increasing vaccination rates in adults 50 years of age and older.

“Given current flu vaccination rates in older adults, we think that increasing flu vaccination rates in this age group could prevent more than one-third of the total flu-related hospitalisations that occur each year.”

Researchers also urged patients to seek help early if they suspect that they have the flu.

“Antiviral drugs are prescription medications that can shorten the time of illness and lessen symptoms, but they work best when started as soon as possible after symptoms develop.”

In general, doctors also recommend that patients develop flu-preventative habits like staying away from others who are or may be sick, staying home when you are sick (except to seek medical care), covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and washing your hands with soap and water.

The World Health Organisation recommends that the following categories of people get vaccinated:

  • Everybody over the age of 65;

  • Residents of old-age homes, chronic care and rehabilitation institutions;

  • Medical and nursing staff responsible for the care of high risk cases;

  • Women who will be in the second or third trimester of their pregnancy during flu season.

You don’t need a prescription from a doctor to get the flu shot, and you can get it at most local pharmacies.

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