The flu season is on its way. It usually stretches from April to September, so now is the time to start planning to get your immunisation in April and May.
You probably already know (from experience) that influenza is highly contagious. It is spread through infected droplets from coughs and sneezes.
You may not know that it is a serious illness. It can last for weeks, and make you very miserable, let alone impact on your life.
About 3000 deaths a year are thought to be flu related.
If you have never experienced the flu, the symptoms are clear.
Know your symptoms
- Fever (often high)
- A severe cough
- Muscle aches and pains
- A sore throat
- Children’s symptoms may also include nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
‘If you do have the flu, the last thing that you want is to spread it all over your community and workplace,’ Jenny Priest, Infection Control Manager at Stawell Regional Health said.
‘Sick people should stay home, it is better to have one or two people sick than the whole workforce.’
‘But better yet, go for prevention. You are not only protecting yourself, but your family and friends.’
The flu vaccination is made available by the state government and we hope to receive it at Stawell Medical Centre by mid-April.
Vaccines will be available at a small cost to patients and at no cost for people who are at high risk including:
- Everyone over 65
- People with chronic illness such as Diabetes.
- DVA Gold card holders
- Pregnant women
- Children from 6 months with underlying risk factors
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are 6 months to under 5 years or who are over 15 years
No one wants to get sick and there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself against influenza.
- Be vaccinated.
- Hand washing and personal hygiene are most important, as well as trying not to touch your mouth or nose.
- Where possible, avoid crowds during the flu season.
Even though the influenza vaccination has been proven to be the most effective protection against the flu, recent research by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia has revealed that one-in-two Australian adults do not plan to vaccinate against the flu this year despite last year’s record flu season which saw more than 249,000 reported infections.
The Guild National President, George Tambassis, says Australian adults are generally misinformed about the seriousness of influenza, and unaware of some of the infectious aspects of the flu.
“Most Australians don’t realise how infectious the flu is, with 77 per cent of respondents unaware the flu virus can remain active when airborne for 45 minutes or more.”
How to protect yourself
The flu vaccination is very important for protecting people at high risk of serious flu complications.
The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot, through your workplace programme, at the GP, or through chemists which offer the service.
This will not only protect you but help protect your family, friends and colleagues (if you don't catch flu you can't spread it).
And if you do get sick – don't share it! Stay at home and rest.
Time the jab right
The timing of an influenza vaccination is critical to ensuring patients have the highest level of protection from the influenza virus when the flu season commences.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is advising Australian patients to receive their influenza vaccination at the right time with a specialist GP, to ensure they are protected.
RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel said there is no need for patients to rush for a flu vaccination as soon as they are available.
“Typically, flu season affects Australia from June to September, with the peak being August,” Dr Seidel said.
“Recent evidence suggests that protection following flu vaccination may begin to wear off after three to four months, so timing of vaccination is critical.”
For more information check with the Stawell Medical Centre at srh.org.au or go to www.healthdirect.gov.au/flu-trends