Is Getting The Flu Vaccine Worth The Hype?

Or are you just wasting your money?


Megan Flemmit |

Game of Thrones may not be gracing our screens this year, but winter is still coming. Followers of the popular show know how important it is to prepare for winter and one of the ways to do so is to get the flu vaccine. The vaccine is said to protect you from most common strains of influenza each year. But is getting the shot worth it? We gathered some information for those of you, who, like Jon Snow, know nothing about the vaccine.

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How The Vaccine Works

Each year, research is conducted to find the most common strains of the flu virus. The vaccine itself consists of the three most common strains which have all been inactivated. Once injected with the vaccine, your body builds up antibodies, which helps protect you from contracting flu.

Doctors recommend that you get the vaccine before the start of the flu season as it takes two weeks for your immunity to be built up, but you can still get it throughout winter.

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Only one percent of people develop any side effects from the vaccine. Common side effects include tenderness at the spot of injection, local swelling or redness. In rare cases, people also experience a mild fever. These typically disappear after a day or two.

Who Should Get It

The vaccine is recommended for everyone, but people who fall into the high risk category are more likely to develop a severe illness after contracting the flu. Individuals over the age of 65, pregnant women, children under five and those with chronic illnesses or who are immunocompromised fall into the high risk category and are advised to get the flu vaccine.

If you’ve had an allergic reaction to the vaccine in the past it’s advised that you don’t have the flu shot. Others who shouldn’t have the shot are those who are allergic to eggs, babies under six months old, and if you have a high fever.

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Is It Possible To Still Get Sick?

According to the South African Health Department, the vaccine is 60% effective in healthy adults. While the vaccine protects against certain strains of the virus, it is still possible to get the flu from a different strain which has not been included in the vaccine. You’re also still able to get the flu during the two week window-period while your immunity is being built up.

Should you then get the flu shot if you’re still able to get sick? The answer is yes. Currently the flu vaccine is the best preventative solution for the virus. The actual cost of treating the flu far outweighs the cost of getting the vaccine.

The flu virus costs the South African economy more than R2-billion a year. On average, people who contract the virus miss 4.5 days of school or work, while treating the symptoms can cost individuals up to R4000.

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Additionally, while most recover from the flu within a few days, 14% of patients end up hospitalized. In South Africa between 6 000 and 11 000 people die because of the flu.

As cliché as it sounds, in this case, prevention is definitely better than cure. You can get your flu vaccine at your local pharmacy or your GP.

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