Prevention is better than cure – How are you protecting yourself from the flu?

Home » Prevention is better than cure – How are you protecting yourself from the flu?

As flu season approaches, the question once again comes to light: how can we best protect ourselves from this year’s strain? In navigating this query, Clinical Executive at Profmed, Justine Lacy says it is vital that we understand the array of flu prevention methods available, from traditional vaccinations to emerging alternatives like immune boosters.

Lacy emphasises the importance of comprehending individual preferences in crafting effective flu prevention strategies. “To devise effective flu prevention strategies, it’s imperative to grasp the diverse needs and considerations of individuals,” she asserts.

For her, the flu vaccine stands as a cornerstone of flu prevention, but it’s not without its challenges. “One significant barrier is the negative connotations surrounding vaccines, which can deter individuals from opting for this highly effective preventive measure.”

In a Profmed survey conducted among a group of journalists, it was found that 60% of respondents have taken the vaccine with most commenting that it always works. The other 40% expressed concern about the potential side effects associated with the flu vaccine.

However, she believes understanding how the flu vaccine works is crucial in dispelling misconceptions and encouraging uptake.

“Contrary to common belief, flu vaccines don’t just provide protection against the annual flu strain. They also contribute to broader community immunity, reducing the overall prevalence of the virus,” says Lacy.

Despite occasional reports of adverse reactions, she says it’s essential to recognise that such responses are typically mild, indicative of the body’s immune system responding to the vaccine—a sign that it’s working.

While the flu vaccine remains the most effective preventive measure, there are other medically sound approaches to flu prevention and risk mitigation. Immune boosters, healthy eating habits, and rigorous sanitisation practices all play a role in fortifying the body’s defenses against influenza. However, she warns that it is crucial to distinguish between evidence-based strategies and false remedies that offer little to no benefit.

“One prevalent myth surrounding the flu is that it’s no more severe than a common cold,” says Lacy. “In reality, influenza can lead to serious complications like pneumonia, particularly among vulnerable populations such as the elderly and anyone with underlying health conditions.”

This emphasises the importance of proactive flu prevention measures, with a particular focus on flu vaccination. Luckily, data from Profmed indicates a notable increase in flu vaccine uptake among members, reflecting an increased awareness of the vaccine’s availability and effectiveness among Profmed members.

For Profmed, Lacy says efforts to promote vaccine uptake, including communication campaigns and outreach programmes, have contributed to this positive trend. Additionally, she says the medical scheme leverages targeted interventions, such as contacting high-risk members for flu vaccination every flu season, has proven effective in enhancing vaccine utilisation and promoting increased preventive care.

“Ultimately, prevention remains the cornerstone of effective healthcare management,” says Lacy. “By embracing evidence-based strategies like vaccination and adopting healthy lifestyle habits, you can significantly reduce your risk of contracting the flu and mitigate its impact on yourself and your community.”

As flu season looms, Lacy urges all South Africans to empower themselves with knowledge and take proactive steps to safeguard our health and wellbeing. “We must take our hats off to all the journalists and internal staff who helped us generate our findings. It is clear people are willing and able to get the flu vaccine, so let’s not waste any time and get vaxxed,” Lacy concludes.