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DOH: Enough flu vaccines

Spokesperson, Fidel Hadebe said health facilities would be starting the vaccination campaign before the start of the flu season.

By April last year massive shortages of the influenza vaccine were being reported. State health facilities had enough doses for high priority cases but private facilities and pharmacies received limited stock.

The shortage was mainly due to countries in the northern hemisphere buying all the vaccine stocks as a protection against the H1N1 flu strain that has caused some panic.

Hadebe said the State would dispense the vaccines to specific groups such as pregnant women and people with underlying chronic conditions such as diabetes.

Seasonal flu places a massive burden on the health system. He said it was critical for the department to prevent diseases before they became outbreaks.

Meanwhile, the Western Cape department of health started its vaccination campaign early this week.

Health MEC, Theuns Botha said: "I want to encourage everyone who considers themselves at risk to go to their nearest clinic for the vaccination. It is a free service that will ensure that less people fall ill this winter. The vaccination campaign is in line with the policy to relieve the burden of disease on our health system."

People receiving medication for chronic pulmonary and cardiac diseases, chronic renal diseases, diabetes or similar conditions and those with conditions that affect the immune system including HIV would receive priority access to the vaccine

Other priority groups include:

Pregnant women - irrespective of stage of pregnancy.

Residents of old age homes, chronic care and rehabilitation institutions.

Children under 18 years of age on long-term aspirin therapy.

All persons over the age of 65 years.

Children 6 months to below 5 years of age.

Those vaccinated in last year’s campaign, need to be re-vaccinated this year if they wish to retain some immunity.

Source: Health-e News , By Lungi Langa

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