The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) says it is concerned by the high number of influenza transmissions since the start of May this year.
The NICD says its surveillance programme that monitors flu transmissions in all the nine provinces in the country, compared flu levels year on year, and this year’s transmission rate is higher than average.
It has called on those with comorbidities to be extra cautious.
According to the World Health Organisation, the yearly flu epidemic has resulted in three to five million cases of severe illness and up to 650 000 respiratory deaths worldwide.
These figures emphasise the seriousness and impact of the influenza virus on public health.
The NICD’s Dr Cheryl Cohen says, “In the different provinces we have sites which monitor flu and these sites have been running for many many years, so we know the levels of flu that we see in a normal year and every year and we compare each year to what we see in the previous year and it is a very reliable robust system that tells us that flu is at a high level.”
Last month, Healthcare professionals advised people to get vaccinated. General Manager of Health Policy and Clinical Advisory at the AfroCentric Group, Dr Ayanda Mbuli, says the annual vaccination protects infants, the elderly and individuals with pre-existing conditions or weak immune systems.
“With the flu vaccine. I think what people don’t know is that from the time you vaccinate, it takes about two to three weeks for you to be immunised for the vaccine to start working, so that is the reason that we actually advise people that before the winter season starts to get vaccinated. So, people generally think at times that I have got vaccinated and the vaccine made me sick. That’s not the case because the vaccine is inactive, and it doesn’t make you sick,” MbuLI adds.
Full interview with Dr. Mbuli: