Red Cross advises getting flu jabs for kids

Red Cross War Memorial Children’s hospital.

The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s hospital is urging parents to stay up to date with their children’s flu vaccines before winter.

Head of the paediatric infectious disease unit at the children’s hospital, Professor Brian Eley, says the burden of influenza in South Africa is substantial.

“We strongly advise parents to have their children, aged 6 months to 8 years, vaccinated before the start of the winter season as it protects children who are at risk of severe influenza while also reducing the risk of infection in vulnerable older adults in families.”

According to the children’s hospital, free flu jabs have been available for inpatients and outpatients at the hospital since mid-April, as part of the provincial health department’s efforts to ease the impact of flu on the public health system and protect those who are vulnerable to severe bouts of flu.

The hospital’s Professor Heloise Buys said infections could lead to severe illness that required admission to ICU for ventilation.

“Sadly certain categories of vulnerable children like premature babies, children with certain heart conditions, children with damaged lungs and children with cerebral palsy may not survive.”

The hospital encouraged immunisation, along with social distancing, hand-washing, and masking, as it had for Covid-19, to fight the flu, Professor Buys said.

Professor Eley said the vaccine was safe although it could cause pain or discomfort at the injection site and, for a few days after vaccination, mild fever and general aches and pains.

“It is advised that parents ask the attending doctor whether their child is at risk of severe influenza and how their child can benefit from the annual influenza vaccine,” he said.

Call 021 658 5111 for more information.