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South Africans urged to get flu shot and Covid vaccine to stave off ‘flurona’ this winter

FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015, file photo, a nurse administers a flu vaccine shot in Washington. Medical expenses are a burden whenever they hit, but a recent study found they are most common around the first few months of the year. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015, file photo, a nurse administers a flu vaccine shot in Washington. Medical expenses are a burden whenever they hit, but a recent study found they are most common around the first few months of the year. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Published May 4, 2022

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AT LEAST a dozen people in Queensland, Australia are in hospital with both influenza and Covid-19, or “flurona”, according to Queensland’s chief health officer Dr John Gerrard - with fears that South Africans too could be hit with the double whammy virus as winter approaches.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Gerrard said the combination of Covid-19 and influenza seems to be particularly severe.

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"As we had suspected, as our pandemic measures have relaxed, we are seeing increasing numbers of cases of influenza and we are likely to see a significant wave of influenza on top of Covid-19 this winter," said Gerrard.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said they have recorded more cases of flu this year than in the whole of 2021.

“More than 800 flu cases had already been confirmed in Queensland this year – up from the 296 cases recorded for the entirety of 2021.

“Some people will end up getting Covid-19 and influenza and this is of great risk,” she said.

With the winter flu season approaching, D’Ath urged everyone to get vaccinated against both viruses as they expect a bigger flu season this year.

“We’ve had very little influenza floating around the community for the last two years due to the restrictions with mask-wearing but also because of the border restrictions and very few international arrivals coming to Australia,” she said.

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In South Africa, the winter flu season is also fast approaching and experts have noticed a resurgence of Covid-19 cases which could lead to a fifth wave.

African Zone medical head of Sanofi Pasteur, Dr Thinus Marais, suggested that South Africans get a double jab of the flu and Covid-19 vaccines because co-infection could result in more severe disease.

“Flu vaccination is critical, considering the possible co-circulation of both the flu and Sars-Cov-2 viruses in the absence of a hard lockdown.

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“It is important to remember that the flu vaccine will not prevent Covid-19 and vice versa; therefore, it is important to ensure that you are vaccinated against both,” said Marais.

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