Supplied, Clicks
Supplied by Clicks.
  • Since 24 March, pharmaceutical retailer Clicks says, it has administered four times more flu vaccinations than over the same period a year ago.
  • The chain attributes the increased demand to customers making every effort to protect themselves from the flu, amid the coronavirus outbreak in South Africa.
  • While it will not prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection, the flu vaccine may reduce pressure on South Africa's health system – and help to reduce the around 12,000 flu-related deaths SA sees every year.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider SA. 

Pharmaceutical retailer Clicks says since 24 March it has administered four times more flu vaccinations than over the same period in 2019.

The annual flu vaccine is recommended for various vulnerable groups, and if broadly used it would help protect those with compromised immune systems, but most South Africans eschew it every year.

This year, Clicks says, it has seen increased demand as people apparently look for protection amid the coronavirus outbreak in South Africa.

Despite the increase in demand, Clicks says it still has flu vaccine stock across its 400 stores.

Business Insider South Africa this week found stocks had run out in a few other, including Dis-Chem stores and independent pharmacies, but those were typically restocked within days.

While it will not prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection, the flu vaccine may reduce pressure on South Africa's health system caused by the usual seasonal flu, and reduce the risk for vulnerable people.

The flu vaccine can help reduce the around 12,000 yearly flu-related deaths in South Africa, Stellenbosch University’s Medical Virology division head professor Wolfgang Preiser told Business Insider South Africa. 

Health minister Zweli Mkhize said healthcare workers have been prioritised for the vaccine.  

Groups like the elderly, immuno-compromised people, pregnant women, and children are as important, say Clicks

This year Clicks is offering a 3-strain flu vaccine at R70 and a new 4-strain flu vaccine at R110 which allows for broader protection against A and B influenza strains. 

“Flu viruses are constantly changing and each year the World Health Organisation adapts the vaccine to optimise immunity. That’s why it’s important for people to get an annual Flu vaccination as soon as it becomes available to ensure protection throughout the entire season,” said Clicks pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman

The flu vaccine is recommended particularly for high-risk groups such as those aged over 65, children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, pregnant women, new moms, and anyone with a chronic illness, such as diabetes, asthma or HIV.

People outside those groups can also help protect the more vulnerable by getting the vaccine, and so slowing the spread of seasonal influenza.

South Africa's flue season is typically between May and September each year.

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