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Flu Vaccine

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Flu Vaccine

A Flu Vaccine is the Best Protection Against the Flu

Until 30 June 2022, the Queensland Government is offering free flu vaccinations for anyone not already eligible for free vaccination under the National Immunisation Program. This includes anyone aged 5 to 64 years.

Influenza, or the flu, is a highly contagious viral infection. It is most often caused by type A or B (rarely C) influenza viruses that infect the upper airways and lungs. Most flu cases in Australia occur during winter. In tropical and subtropical areas, like Queensland though, the flu is common all year round.

The flu is very serious. For young kids, especially children under 5, people over 65 years of age, pregnant women, and those with medical conditions such as diabetes, lung or heart disease, it can result in hospitalisation or worse.

Most people recover from the flu within a week, although a cough and tiredness can last longer. Serious complications of flu occur in a small number of people. These include pneumonia, inflammation of the heart muscle and neurologic complications.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • a sore throat
  • dry cough
  • headaches
  • muscle or joint pain
  • and tiredness or exhaustion.

Symptoms usually appear 1 to 3 days after becoming infected.

Children are more likely to have gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

In the elderly, there may be no fever and the only signs and symptoms of flu may include confusion, shortness of breath and the worsening of a chronic condition.

How it spreads

The flu is mostly spread in two ways. First, is by airborne droplets from an infected person coughing, sneezing or talking. Second, is by touching contaminated surfaces (such as hands, remote controls, phones, keyboards and door handles) and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

People with the flu are generally infectious from 24 hours before symptoms appear until a week afterwards. Children and those who have a compromised immune system can be infectious for longer.

Prevention

Vaccination and practising good hand and respiratory hygiene is your best defence against the spread of the flu.

To protect yourself and those around you here are 7 easy steps to help fight the flu:

  • Get a flu shot every year
  • If you are unwell, stay at home and avoid contact with others
  • Wash your hands often and properly with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • Cover your cough and sneezes with a tissue or a flexed elbow. Throw your tissues away immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • Try to stay 1.5 metres away from anyone who coughs and sneezes
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces regularly with soap and water or detergent
  • Don’t share items such as cups, glasses, cutlery, lip balm, toys or anything which has come into contact with the mouth or nose.

Treatment

The flu is best managed by:

  • bed rest
  • drinking plenty of fluids
  • over-the-counter medication to help relieve symptoms (take only as directed).

Why vaccination is important

Vaccination is the best way to reduce the risk of getting flu and its possible complications. Being vaccinated builds immunity to the virus and helps prevent transmission of the virus to other people. It is recommended annually for anyone over 6 months of age.

It is extremely important for children aged 6 months to under 5 years of age and those who are in a high-risk group to be vaccinated. It is proven to reduce risk of contracting the flu and suffering from its possible complications.

Flu is more common in children. The flu also causes one of the highest rates of hospitalisation for children under 5, compared to other preventable diseases in this age group. Complications include pneumonia, convulsions and, while rare, encephalitis (life-threatening brain inflammation).

Children also contribute greatly to spreading the flu. Vaccinating children protects the wider community and those who are vulnerable to serious complications. This includes babies, the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions.

Why the flu vaccine is needed every year

The strains used in seasonal influenza (flu) vaccines can change each year depending on which viruses are predicted by experts to be circulating in the community. For this reason, everyone 6 months and above should get a new flu vaccine every year. Getting the flu vaccine once they are available from your local doctor or immunisation provider will provide protection for the flu season, which in Queensland is typically from June to September with the peak usually in August.

The flu is different to a cold

Colds and the flu are both viral respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Both of these illnesses can have similar symptoms and at first it can be difficult to tell the difference.

In general, the symptoms of the flu are more severe and last longer than those of a cold. While colds usually pass in a few days, the flu can have life-threatening consequences.

Free flu vaccine

The flu vaccine is recommended annually for everyone over 6 months of age and is available free under the National Immunisation Program for high-risk groups. Until 30 June 2022, the Queensland Government is offering free flu vaccinations for anyone not already eligible for free vaccination under the National Immunisation Program. This includes anyone aged 5 to 64 years.

  • If you are eligible under the National Immunisation Program you should access your vaccination through your local General Practitioner or community health provider.
  • If you are not eligible under the National Immunisation Program you can make an appointment at a local pharmacy or general practice to receive the vaccination at no charge.

Those eligible under the National Immunisation Program include:

  • children aged between 6 months to under 5 years of age
  • people aged 65 years and over
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and older
  • pregnant women
  • people over 6 months with a medical condition that can lead to complications from the flu.

 

The Australian Immunisation Handbook includes more information about specific groups who should get vaccinated against influenza.

The following people are more at risk of complications from influenza and are eligible for annual influenza vaccination free under the National Immunisation Program:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
  • Children aged 6 months to under 5 years
  • Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
  • People aged 65 years or over.
  • People aged 6 months or over who have medical conditions that mean they have a higher risk of getting serious disease:
    • cardiac disease
    • chronic respiratory conditions
    • chronic neurological conditions
    • immunocompromising conditions
    • diabetes and other metabolic disorders
    • renal disease
    • haematological disorders
    • children aged six months to 10 years on long term aspirin therapy.

Children under nine years receiving their influenza vaccination for the first time require two doses of vaccine, spaced by a minimum of one month.

 

When to get the influenza vaccine

New season influenza vaccines under the NIP are expected to be available from April. Timing may be different for your local area.  Check with your immunisation provider to find out when they will have the vaccine available and when you will be able to book in to have the vaccine.

Annual influenza vaccine should occur anytime from April onwards to be protected for the peak flu season, which is generally June to September. The highest level of protection occurs in the first 3 to 4 months following vaccination.

However, it is never too late to vaccinate since influenza can circulate in the community all year round.

Pregnant women should receive the vaccine at any stage during pregnancy.

Influenza vaccines can be given on the same day with a COVID-19 vaccine.

Where to get vaccinated

All of your Amtan Medical Centres offer Flu Vaccines, call 1300-426-826 to book or book online;

Locations

 

Your doctor will advise you with more information during your consultation.

*Call us on 1300-4-AMTAN to book your flu shot today.
*Book your appointment at any of our 8 Amtan Centres. Click here to Book.