As the cooler weather approaches, so too does a number of viral illnesses that can pose serious health issues for at risk people. Autumn and winter are especially known for cold and flu outbreaks, and many medical professionals will recommend vaccines to lessen your chances of contracting the flu.
What exactly is the flu?
Influenza, or the flu, is a viral infection that is highly contagious and is spread by coughing, sneezing and close contact to an infected person. While on its own the flu can clear up in around a week, it can lead to more severe illnesses or complications such as bronchitis (inflammation of bronchial tube lining) or pneumonia (an infection that inflames air sacs), which could require hospitalisation and could possibly lead to death in severe cases. The flu can also make pre-existing conditions worsen in some patients.
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches
- Poor appetite
- Runny Nose
Are all flu vaccines the same?
Currently there are four influenza vaccines available and will be offered for free to patients under the National Influenza Vaccination Program. These are:
- FluQuadri Junior – given to children between the ages 6–35 months
- FluQuadri – for children 36 months or over
- Fluarix Tetra – for children 36 months or over
- Afluria Quad – for those 18 years and older
Vaccines are recommended for everyone, but especially those at higher risk such as the elderly, those with respiratory conditions, chronic illnesses and pregnant women (vaccination is safe for all stages of pregnancy).
The flu vaccination with be available from April at immunisation providers. As the flu virus is continually changing, it is important to get the flu vaccination each year. It is also important to know that for this reason the vaccination will change each year in order to protect you from the strain that is most likely to be present in that year.
For most individuals, immunity from the virus is achieved within 2–3 weeks of being vaccinated. Getting it in April gives you the time to build up the immunity before the peak season for the flu hits. Keep in mind that the effectiveness of the shot will reduce over time, which is why it’s important to get it each year.
But can’t vaccines give you the flu?
It is important to know that there is no live virus present in the vaccination, so there is no risk of getting the flu from the shot. All vaccines that are administered in Australia must first pass stringent safety testing and be approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration before use on the public.
For more information, please consult your doctor.