Flu season is a time of sharing (germs) and caring. If you’ve ever had seasonal influenza, you certainly wouldn’t want it again - or want to share it with friends and family. That’s where the caring bit comes in. Having an annual flu shot is your best protection against weeks of illness and recovery with the virus. Plus, by being vaccinated you may be saving the lives of others in your community. 2017 vaccines are available at Campaspe Family Practice now.
Some people are at greater risk of serious complications from seasonal flu, such as pneumonia, the worsening of medical conditions, and even death. The flu is especially dangerous for older people, pregnant women, very young children, Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders, and people with underlying chronic medical conditions.
Even if you are careful, avoiding flu can be difficult. You can be spreading the virus for a day before experiencing symptoms. And when influenza hits, it is sudden and hard. People often describe the onset of flu as ‘like being hit by a bus’.
What is the flu?
Influenza is not a bad cold. It’s a highly contagious viral infection that spreads rapidly through coughing, sneezing, close contact, and touching hands or contaminated hard surfaces. The virus changes constantly - that is why vaccines are different each year, and why last year’s vaccination won’t protect you this year. Flu usually hits Australia in June and is at its peak in August and early spring. Australian influenza experts estimate as many as one in five people may be infected annually.
In most people, it takes 10 days to two weeks after vaccination for the protective immune response to develop. Therefore, it’s important to be vaccinated before flu season starts.
Who needs a flu shot?
Anyone can get the flu. That’s why Australia’s Influenza Specialist Group recommends everyone over six months of age having a yearly flu shot - especially healthcare workers and people who have contact with children, the elderly, and people with medical conditions.
Flu vaccines are free under the National Immunisation Program (NIP) to people at greater risk from influenza. This includes:
- people aged 65 and over
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait people aged 6 months to less than five years
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait people aged 15 years and over
- pregnant women
- people aged six months and over with medical conditions such as severe asthma, heart or lung disease, low immunity or diabetes, which can lead to complications from influenza
What’s in this year’s NIP vaccine?
This year there are four age-specific vaccines, three of those vaccines are for children. The vaccines cover four strains of influenza virus that affect humans – two A strains of influenza (Hong Kong and Michigan) and two B strains of influenza (Phuket and Brisbane). Click here to learn more.
Can I get the flu from the vaccine?
No, this is impossible due to the way the vaccines are made. There are no live viruses in the flu vaccine. Common side effects from the vaccine can include redness or swelling at the injection site. Serious reactions to flu vaccines are rare, however if you have severe egg allergy or other health concerns, speak to your GP before having your vaccination.
Cold or Flu?
Immunisation specialists advise if you have a sore throat and a runny nose, and are sneezing, but do not have a high fever, fatigue, headaches and muscular aches, then you probably have a common cold. In children, flu symptoms may also include nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Is the vaccine safe?
Yes. In Australia, all vaccines must pass stringent safety tests before being approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Influenza in Pregnancy
Pregnant women are at increased risk from complications from the flu. Immunisation during pregnancy, not only protects women, but also provides protection for infants for the first six months of life, when they are too young to be vaccinated. The flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women in all stages of their pregnancy.
What can I do?
The best ways to reduce your risk of influenza this season is to be vaccinated, practise good hygiene, and avoid crowds where possible. Call our clinic today on 5422 2877 to make a vaccination appointment for you and your family.
The flu vaccine will cost $20, unless you qualify for a free vaccine under the National Immunisation Program. Your immunisation consultation will be bulk billed.