The City of Cape Town’s clinics are rounding off their flu vaccination drive as part of the Health Directorate’s winter health efforts.
City Health acquired 21 200 flu vaccinations at a cost of just over R1,2 million earlier this year. The vaccinations have been distributed in terms of the National Influenza Policy and Strategic Plan, 2015. In terms of the plan, all provinces are required to budget for annual influenza vaccinations and jointly vaccinate a specific number of people in high-risk groups. This includes people who are HIV positive, pregnant women, children and the elderly.
While it is not possible to vaccinate all clients who visit public health facilities against influenza, vaccinations are done to ensure community immunity, i.e. immunising a critical portion of a community against a contagious disease which minimises the opportunity for an outbreak, thus protecting those who are not vaccinated.The principle of community immunity applies to control of a variety of contagious diseases, including influenza, measles, mumps, rotavirus, and pneumococcal disease.
City Health also has a range of symptomatic treatments available for colds and flu including antihistamines, decongestant sprays, pain and fever medicines, and antibiotics to treat bacterial infections.
‘Common colds or the flu have the potential to seriously affect the health of people with already compromised immune systems, but also those whose living conditions are less than ideal. So we do what we can to try and minimise the risk of illness in these communities. While we are unable to provide free vaccinations to each and every client, we do have treatment options available to those who do contract flu and cannot afford to purchase medication,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Health, Councillor Siyabulela Mamkeli.
In addition to treatment, City Health also continues its education and awareness campaigns around hygiene to minimise the spread of germs and resultant infections. This includes visits to schools, edu-care facilities and informal settlements.
During winter, the Directorate’s environmental health practitioners play an active role monitoring the City’s winter preparedness programme. They monitor and report on or refer any service-related risk, in particular to mitigate the effects of flooding, and also provide relief where needed. They conduct awareness programmes around flooding-related health risks and monitor mass care centres housing displaced people.
‘Our staff are constantly on the lookout for any conditions that could potentially have an impact on the health and well-being of our residents. The heavy winter rains have a tendency to cause pools of stagnant water, particularly in our informal areas. The Environmental Health Department helps to make sure that such hazards are dealt with, whether this means providing sandbags and drainage or even filling affected areas with sand to prevent future incidents,’ added Councillor Mamkeli.
Residents can report any environmental health concerns to their nearest Environmental Health Office or local clinic. Alternatively, they can contact the City’s Call Centre on 0860 103 089.