Durban – KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo on Thursday urged people with weak immune systems to get vaccinated, but said there was no cause for panic about the H1N1 flu.
Dhlomo allayed fears of a reported outbreak of H1N1 flu in KwaZulu-Natal, saying that people with strong immune systems need not worry about getting infected.
News24 reported earlier on Thursday that there were three confirmed cases at Clifton College in Morningside, Durban. The school earlier confirmed that three Grade 3 pupils had been booked off sick because they had contracted the highly contagious flu at the weekend.
The school said the pupils could return to the private school after they had received medical clearance certificates from their doctors. News24 located another school in Ballito which had also had three cases last month. Head of the junior college at the Ashton International College, Flick Holmes, said the pupils had since returned to school.
Dhlomo said: “I urge those with a compromised immune system who hadn’t yet received their flu vaccine to ensure that they were vaccinated against flu. This will lead to automatic vaccination against the H1N1 flu strain.”
He said about two months ago, the Department of Health made a call for people to have flu vaccinations. “The vaccine on offer in South Africa for this flu season includes cover for the H1N1 strain. H1N1 is not a new disease anymore. It’s been around for a number of years. Most of the population has now developed immunity against it,” he said.
Dhlomo said that since the majority of flu cases would present with mild disease, the vaccine was recommended for people in the “high risk” group such as pregnant women, people with lung conditions such as asthma, people with haematological and metabolic disorders like diabetes, people infected with HIV, children below 4-years, persons above 65-years, and institutionalised people.
“People who fall under this group should and must go for as flu vaccine, as H1N1 will be covered there,” he said. He also urged the public to follow basic infection prevention practice in order to protect themselves against flu, such as hand washing and cough etiquette and keeping away from crowds if symptoms and signs of flu are developed.
“Like any other strain that comes and goes, if you get a flu, just get painkillers, drink water, rest and you’ll be okay. “Even if those with a normal immune system were to contract H1N1, it will just subside. Regular physical exercise means that you won’t be susceptible to disease, as your body will have built up enough resistance,” said Dhlomo.
Published. 2015-06-18: Amanda Khoza
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