Boost your immunity for the long winter
months ahead with our all-you-need-to-know flu-prevention plan. Follow these
steps to keep the sniffles away.
With flu season officially underway, many of us are already in its uncomfortable grip, or
tending to those who are. Thankfully we don’t have to worry that a new fatal
strain, like that in the disaster thriller Contagion, is going to wipe out the
entire population any time soon.
Still, flu’s prevalence and insidious
nature, including adaptable strains, like swine and avian flu, are cause for
The flu affects up to 15 percent of the
world population and up to 20 percent of South Africans every year, according
to the World Health Organisation (WHO). And with new types of virus strains
developing every winter, it’s vital to protect ourselves by building up our
winter immunity. Here’s how.
Your number-one priority? Get vaccinated
It’s not a miracle cure – no vaccine is 100
percent effective. “The virus that causes flu mutates at such as a rapid rate
that often the new vaccines that have been developed don’t contain the correct
viral strains. This means the vaccine may or may not work,” explains
Johannesburg-based Dr Bernard Brom, founder and editor of the SA Journal of
Natural Medicine, and chairman of the South African Society of Integrative
But most experts agree it’s one of the best
things you can do to protect yourself. “The flu vaccine is a potent barrier
against the three most common strains from the previous year still circulating
the planet. It can’t cause flu and should be on all families’ shopping lists
right now,” says Dr Charl van Loggerenberg, a Joburg-based medicine specialist
and SHAPE Advisory Board member. Some studies have even proven that the flu
shot can provide up to 70-90 percent protection in healthy people.
When to take it? “It takes the immune system about six to eight weeks to respond,”
says Dr Arien van der Merwe, a medical doctor and author, specializing in
integrative medicine, who is based in Pretoria. “Therefore, the best time to
get the flu vaccine is mid-March to end-May, before the flu season starts.”
Where to go?
Book a visit to your doctor or with the nursing sister at your local pharmacy.
It’ll cost you from R59.95 per flu shot at Clicks, Dis-Chem and Pick n Pay