The Australian Government is providing two new enhanced flu vaccines, specifically made for the over 65 age group. There are also new state-funded vaccination programs that provide free vaccinations for all children aged between six months and five years.
Dr Hamish Meldrum, GP Obstetrician and Director of Medical Services at Ochre Health provides his five tips for managing your flu shot this season:
- Get vaccinated in May. Flu vaccines provide the most protection in the first three to four months after they are received – our peak flu season typically occurs between June and September.
- Check if you’re eligible for a free vaccine. They are free for people aged 65 and over, pregnant women (at any stage), people with chronic diseases, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 15 years.
- Practice good hygiene. Getting vaccinated doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get the flu, but it greatly reduces the risk. Good hygiene can stop the spread of infection to other vulnerable groups, including babies too young to get immunised.
- Post-flu-shot symptoms are normal. The flu vaccine is not a live vaccine, which means you can’t catch the flu from the shot. Common side-effects relate to the vaccine stimulating the immune system. However, if you continue to feel unwell after a flu shot, speak to your local GP.
- Vaccinate your children. Young children, especially those under three years of age, are more likely to be hospitalised from influenza.
Dr Edwin Kruys of Maleny’s Ochre Health says, “Unfortunately each year influenza causes serious illness and even deaths in Australian communities. “The flu vaccine is the best defence against seasonal influenza.”
Go to www.ochrehealth.com.au to book online to organise a flu shot.