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Massive vaccination drive to keep influenza at bay

 

The City of Johannesburg is planning to stop sniffles and sneezes in their tracks with the rollout of a massive H1N1and H3N2 flu vaccination campaign during the coming winter season.

The campaign – which kicked off last week and runs until June – is aimed mainly at children aged 6 months to 49 months (<5 years), pregnant women, patients with any chronic disease such as lung and heart diseases, people living with HIV, patients with compromised immune systems and people older than 65 years.

“One of the aims of the City’s Growth and Development Strategy 2040 (GDS 2040) is to effectively improve the health of our residents and the flu vaccination campaign is one of the steps towards achieving that goal,” says Councillor Nonceba Molwele, Member of the Mayoral Committee for Health and Social Development.

All the clinics across the city’s seven regions will administer the flu vaccine. City health officials will also visit old age homes, chronic care facilities and rehabilitation centres around Johannesburg to give residents the flu jab.

“A total of 35 662 flu vaccines will be administered throughout the City’s 80 clinics to the most vulnerable and health-compromised residents to ensure that when winter sets in, they are protected against flu and other opportunistic diseases,” MMC Molwele says.

The City’s Public Health Deputy Director Mary Daka says though the vaccine will not completely stop residents from coming down with flu, it will help minimise the severity of the infection. Daka urged residents to take precautions by improving their personal hygiene, eating healthy, exercising, managing stress and getting enough sleep.

“Residents must take responsibility for their own health by ensuring they do not spread the flu bug. If they feel feverish or they sneeze or cough a lot, they need to go to their nearest clinic to have that checked as quickly as possible. They also need to ensure they do not spread the bug by constantly washing their hands. They must cover their mouths when they sneeze or cough and stay in well-ventilated areas,” says Daka.

To prevent infections, the health department has urged residents to:

Avoid touching the mouth and/or nose;
Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water regularly;
Avoid close contact with people who might be ill;
Reduce the time spent in crowded places, if possible;
Improve airflow in living spaces by opening windows; and
Practise good health habits, including adequate sleep, nutritious food and physical activity.