Colds and flu

Updated 22 May 2015

Flu alert: Get the flu shot delivered at home

With this year's flu strain expected to be more virulent than ever, a South African initiative aims to bring the influenza vaccine right to your door.


South Africans have been urged to get vaccinated because this winter’s flu strains are going to be particularly virulent. And now a new initiative is offering to bring the flu jab right to your door.

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness that can cause mild to severe illness. It can also make chronic health problems worse or lead to pneumonia, which could lead to death.

Read: South Africans warned of severe flu strains

Discovery Health, which is the medical aid division of Discovery Insurance, together with Uber, a technology company connecting passengers with drivers through a smartphone app, is taking the strain out of the effort to get vaccinated.

They have partnered up for one day only to bring South Africans the flu shot at the push of a button and it is open to everyone. The offer will be valid on Friday, May 22, between 10:00 and 16:00 where users can request up to 5 flu vaccinations using the Uber app at a cost of R100.

Making vaccinations pain free

"We wanted to make it as easy as possible for all South Africans to get vaccinated against the flu this season," Dr Noluthando Nematswerani, clinical specialist at Discovery Health, told Health24.

"Influenza infection is a public health problem that has significant health and economic implications."

She said the infection is associated with complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis and worsening of heart conditions that may warrant hospital admissions; and it also contributes to absenteeism at school and work.

"With roughly a month remaining until we hit the winter solstice, there is still time for people to get their vaccine and decrease the risk of contracting the flu virus,”said Dr Nematswerani.

Read: Sore throat gargles and remedies that work

"The most common misconception about the flu shot is that it makes you sick," she said, noting that the vaccine is associated with minor side effects such as mild pain, redness and swelling at the injection site and mild fever.

“The key point about vaccinations is that the benefits far outweigh the potential side effects and the discomfort that is caused by the actual illness."

She also pointed out that individuals may still have common colds during the winter season even when vaccinated because the vaccine protects only against influenza viruses.

Who should get the flu jab

People at high risk of the flu, said Dr Nematswerani, are adults 65 years and older, pregnant women, people who have asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease and other chronic conditions.

She added that it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that provide protection against the flu to develop in the body.

The feedback to the campaign has been great so far, said Dr Nematswerani. "It is generating a lot of excitement amongst our members, Uber users and the social media space in South Africa. We look forward to a thrilling day on Friday and expect demand to be through the roof for this very innovative concept."

Infograph: Five things you need to know about the flu vaccine

"We think riders are loving the idea that they can get flu vaccinations at the tap of a button," an Uber spokesperson told Health24.

"Catching the flu is easy and we felt that preventing it should be easy too. That is why this winter we have partnered with Discovery Health, providing South Africans with flu vaccinations at the tap of a button," she said. "This is a first for South Africa."

This offer is only available to selected areas of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

"We do anticipate that demand will be through the roof, so we are asking riders to please be patient and keep trying," said the spokesperson.

flu shot,discovery health,uber

How to get your flu shot on demand:

1. Between 10:00 and 16:00 on Friday 22 May 2015 only, you will be able to request up to 5 flu vaccinations to your doorstep using the Uber app for only R100.
2. Starting at 10:00, open your Uber application and toggle over to the red cross icon.
3. Set your pickup location, and request a ride as you normally would.
4. Within minutes, a Discovery Health accredited nurse will arrive at your location, ready to administer flu vaccinations for up to five patients.
5. If you are not yet an Uber user, sign up here and enter the promotional code UBERHEALTHSA and enjoy a free first ride up to R150!

Important points to note:

- The offer is open to anyone using Uber, not just Discovery clients.
- Discovery Health accredited nurses can administer up to 5 individual vaccinations during one home visit.
- While the flu vaccination and flu prevention pack will be free, a once off fare of R100 will be charged directly to your Uber account to cover the cost of the home / office visit.
- All Discovery Vitality members will earn 1000 Vitality points following their flu shot.
- All DiscoveryCard holders, who add their Discovery credit card to their Uber account, will have the R100 home visit fee refunded.
- This activation will be for one day only – Friday 22 May 2015.
- You must be an Uber user to request your flu shot on demand.
- You must be 18 years or older to request UberHEALTH.
- Should you not be able to get your flu vaccination on demand on the day, you can visit a number of accredited facilities in the Vitality Wellness Network, including Clicks and Dis-Chem pharmacies as well as many GPs.

Also read:

Find out: is it a cold, sinusitis or flu?

15 tips to stay healthy in winter

Glaxo recalls flu vaccine due to potency problem


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Flu expert

Dr Heidi van Deventer completed her MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 2004 at the University of Stellenbosch.
She has additional training in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Paediatric Advanced Life Support) as well as biostatistics and epidemiology.

Dr Van Deventer is currently working as a researcher at the Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Centre at the University of Stellenbosch.

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