shoprite
(Image: Shoprite)
  • Clicks, Dis-Chem, and Shoprite are now offering flu vaccines for the 2021 winter season.
  • It won't help you avoid a possible third wave of coronavirus infections.
  • But getting the flu shot may help free up healthcare resources to help deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

What would traditionally be the time for the winter flu season is fast approaching – though it never properly arrived in 2020, thanks to lockdowns and social distancing. 

This year the Institute For Communicable Diseases has already officially detected one case of influenza in the Western Cape.

A vaccine against the flu is not supposed to stop you getting Covid-19 – though a recently published study in the US found that people who were vaccinated with the flu shot last year were more significantly likely to return negative results when testing for Covid-19, News24 reports

Other studies have linked the flu shot to lower Covid-19 mortality.

South African experts have previously cited a list of reasons why getting the flu shot is worth it, including how dangerous it would be to have both the flu and Covid-19 at the same time.

In South Africa, seasonal flu vaccinations are now widely available, with the major pharmacy chains, Clicks, Dis-Chem, and Shoprite (via its MediRite pharmacies) all administering them.

MediRite will do so for a cash price of R109, the cheapest among the three.It accepts all major medical aids, and you can book an appointment across a network of 146 pharmacies.

The new shots this year contain protection against the latest strains detected for the 2021 season, Lisa Giltrow, senior pharmacist at MediRite said.

Giltrow said the flu vaccine might make the diagnosis of a Covid-19 infection easier, given the typical viral infection symptoms are broadly similar in both flu and Coronavirus infections.

“By having the flu vaccine and thus reducing the risk of contracting flu, it could rule out flu as a possible diagnosis and the person being tested for Covid-19, rather than writing it off as a ‘case of the flu’,” Giltrow said.

Clicks is offering the four-strain Vaxigrip Tetra flu vaccine for R115. The retailer says its vaccine provides broader protection against current flu strains.

Clicks said it expects heightened demand for the shots and has ramped up its capacity to administer the vaccine. It is offering vaccinations at more than 200 Clicks clinics as well as selected Clicks pharmacies.

Waheed Abdurahman, a pharmacist at Clicks, said getting the flu shot is an imperative conservation measure to reduce the burden felt by healthcare workers during the pandemic.

“The flu shot is not effective against Covid-19, but will help protect against the flu which can weaken the immune system and lower your defense against Covid-19 infection. It is especially important for those who have a co-morbidity or chronic condition, such as asthma,” Abdurahman said.

This year Dis-Chem is offering the 4-strain flu vaccine which is retailing between R190 to R250. The cost, Dis-Chem says, includes the vaccination stock and an administration fee.

Lizeth Kruger, Dis-Chem’s National Clinic Manager, said it’s crucial to get both the flu and Covid vaccines due to the different virus strains and the severity of both.

All patients coming for the flu vaccine will be evaluated and screened for Covid infection, she said.

She said that the number of queries Dis-Chem has received relating to the flu vaccines has increased from last year.

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