As another flu season begins, many Australians remain unaware of the various repercussions that a catastrophic flu season can have on the wider community. The flu can of course lead to deaths of vulnerable Australians, but it can also result in a loss of resources.
Across Australia, about 1,000 blood donors cancel their appointments every week during flu season. This huge loss usually means a national shortage of specific blood types, namely O- negative. Australia needs more than 25,000 donations every week of whole blood, plasma and platelets combined, and with such a large percent of the population becoming unwell and unable to donate, this puts an unnecessary strain on emergency departments, donor centres and hospitals.
O- negative blood is used in emergency situations and is stocked in ambulances, rescue helicopters and when a patient’s blood type is unknown. At times, the national supply of O- negative blood has dwindled down to just one or two days.
How you can help
First and foremost, you must be feeling fit and healthy to donate blood, plasma or platelets. Patients needing blood transfusions often have very weakened immune systems so even if you have a sniffle or a cough, you will be unable to donate. If you’re unsure, don’t worry! Before each blood donation a quick health check is performed to ensure donors are in shape.
Ensuring you have had a flu vaccination for this upcoming flu season is also important, as it prevents you and others getting sick. If you think you’ve missed the window for a flu vaccination it’s best to check with your registered health practitioner.
You can also be mindful and help stop the spread of germs by washing your hands, eating well and staying fit. If you’ve received your flu vaccination and are feeling healthy, be sure to keep an eye out for which blood types are needed, or simply keep up with your regular donations.
If you’ve never donated blood before, getting started can be daunting. However, during flu season, your donation could help fill in urgent gaps when blood donations are needed the most. If you’d like to know more about the process, contact a donor centre near you.
There is still potential to get the flu after a vaccination, but the vaccination can help reduce the severity and duration of the flu, ensuring you’re back on your feet sooner rather than later. If you have any questions about this year’s flu season or flu vaccine, please contact us!