After experiencing an outbreak that killed off almost 30 children, South Africa is now being egged to start getting vaccinated in time for the winter. The usually annual vaccinations that should have been available in January were delayed due to the incompatibility of the vaccine.
Although a flu vaccine is only meant to target flu, the complications of this treatment are more complex than that. A vaccine may be rendered useless and irrelevant if it is not compatible to the strain of the virus that is affecting a certain area.
With each year, the influenza virus constantly changes, spreading out new “strains” of the virus. Each strain is different from the next, all the way down to chemical and physical composition. One vaccine may be effective against one strain but could be powerless against the next.
For South Africa, the usual March vaccinations were delayed because the vaccine that was available was incompatible against the two new strains of the virus that are circulating the country at this point in the year. Even if South Africans went out of their way to get the vaccine that early, it wouldn’t have done much to help their chances of resisting the virus.
Now that the vaccines have been improved to take on the current strains, South Africa is now urged to start getting jabbed in order to minimize infection risks.
The Reason for the Hurry
As with everything, even vaccinations take time before they become effective. Because vaccinations help the body to produce the right antibodies for the flu virus, the body still needs time to absorb the vaccine and replicate the antibodies it needs. That process takes about two weeks.
Anything can happen in that short amount of time. Take note that the body is still vulnerable to the flu so someone who is vaccinated would still need to be careful while their body is still manufacturing their antibodies. The earlier the vaccination, the less chance of infection.
And with the delayed delivery of the vaccines that should have been available in March, there is a big chance that the virus has already penetrated the population in small, isolated cases that have not yet been reported. This is why timing is essential. Because at the end of the year, the virus would have mutated once again, forcing medical companied to come up with a new vaccine to fight the new strains the following year.
How to Tell
When the virus hits someone, the first thing that will happen is that the body will respond by telling you that there is something wrong. This could be a fever. And in severe cases, a very high fever. These are the kinds of fevers accompanied by chills and headaches. Frequent body aching is also expected with the flu. And on initial diagnosis, the first thing any doctor would do is assign rest. But if it’s a special kind of flu, things could get worse. The virus could start attacking the respiratory system as a whole, introducing other complications such as pneumonia and difficulty breathing. Infections could also start in the alveoli that could lead to death if left untreated.
With a proper vaccine, you may still experience a slight fever and might need a few days in bed, but you’re guaranteed that it won’t get any worse than that. Your body will tell you that the virus has entered your body, but it will most certainly be capable of keeping things under control.
The Key to Preventing Outbreaks
Chances are, people in South Africa may only be acting as carriers and not hosts. These are people who have the virus but do not suffer from it. This could lead to contamination without vaccination.
By getting vaccinated, you are ensuring the public that even if you carried the virus, you could not pass it on to someone because it is being dealt with by your immune system. And at the same time, even if you were living with someone who has the virus, you would be able to keep the virus at home because you can handle the infection on your own.
It is considered as a way of protecting the people around you from the sickness by getting vaccinated. Even if it is not in the family’s medical history, everyone should get vaccinated just to be on the safe side. No matter how healthy a person’s immune system is, it cannot keep up with the mutation rate of a virus. In the United States people can easily get vaccinated at places such as Walgreens and Costco. These vaccinations are also affordable which means protection is within arm’s reach for the general public.
Hopefully, South Africans will take the chance to get vaccinated now that the new vaccine is already available to the public. This will ensure that the virus stays in control keep it from claiming any more lives in the winter to follow.