Is your flu vaccination up to date?

Influenza is not a cold, it is a highly contagious disease.
Flu is caused by two types of viruses in humans (Influenza A and B). Influenza is spread between people through infected droplets in the air. Having flu vaccination will not only reduce your chances of catching the flu and reduce the severity of the flu if you do catch it. It will also reduce spreading of the virus and protect the vulnerable.

The influenza vaccine, is manufactured with the dormant influenza strains that are expected to cause influenza that year and can assist in preventing you catching the flu. The vaccine is considered to be 70%-90% effective in preventing influenza illness in healthy adults. It is not possible to catch influenza from the vaccine, however if it is possible experience some cold like symptoms after vaccination if you are run down.

The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends annual influenza vaccination for any person aged 6 months or older who wishes to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill with the flu.

Flu vaccination is strongly recommended for the following groups and under the National Immunisation Program, the flu vaccine is funded for these groups:

  • All persons aged 65 years and over
  • All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over
  • All pregnant women at any stage during pregnancy
  • Individuals at six months of age or older with conditions predisposing them to severe influenza:
    • Any forms of heart diseases
    • Any chronic respiratory conditions
    • Any chronic neurological conditions
    • Other chronic illnesses requiring regular medical follow ups
    • Impaired immunity including HIV infection, malignancy and chronic steroid use
    • Children aged 6 months to 10 years on long term aspirin therapy

Flu Vaccine is also strongly recommended (but not funded) for the following people:

  • Nursing home and residential care facilities residents and carers
  • Homeless people and those providing care to them
  • Health care workers
  • Anyone living in a household with a person who is in a high risk category
  • People providing essential services e.g. Police, ambulance, etc.
  • Travellers

Ideal time for vaccination

The ideal time for flu vaccination is in autumn, before the flu season commences. Vaccination usually takes up to two weeks to be effective. Influenza virus strain changes every year. Therefore, it’s important to get yourself vaccinated every year.

If you’re not sure whether you should be vaccinated, there are three important steps to take:
1. Assess your risk
2. Get the facts about flu
3. Talk to your doctor or employer about influenza vaccination

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