AS the cold sets in, Joburg residents are urged to have flu vaccinations.

The health department is offering 20 000 flu vaccines at the city’s 79 city clinics.

According to Mpho Phalatse, mayoral committee member for health, the free flu vaccination drive started on 20 March.

It will run until most target groups are reached and the vaccine is finished.

“The targeted groups include children aged 4 to 6, pregnant women up to two weeks after delivery, patients with chronic conditions like kidney failure, diabetes, lung or heart disease, and people living with HIV.

“Patients with poor immune systems, as well as people older than 65 should be vaccinated.

“Flu symptoms include a sudden fever, coughing, a sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headache, fatigue, and even vomiting or diarrhoea.”

Phalatse said to prevent flu, avoid close contact with those who are sick and cover your mouth and nose when sneezing.

Also practise good hygiene like washing hands often and ensuring windows are open for fresh air.

“A vaccine does not guarantee protection against flu. Some who were vaccinated might still get sick, because the vaccine takes two weeks to become effective but vaccinated people are less likely to fall ill.”