Hope you are well. Autumn has arrived so has the start of the flu season. Although we could get flu at any time of the year, the spread is more prevalent when the weather cools down. The peak of flu season in Australia is usually June to September.
The last two flu seasons have been unusual in Australia due to the covid-19 pandemic; we have not seen many influenza cases and there has been lower uptake of the vaccine. Now that the borders are open and life is returning to normal, health experts are predicting a more severe flu season in 2022.
What is the flu or Influenza?
The Flu or Influenza is an acute viral illness. It is a highly contagious disease that mainly affects the respiratory system. It is caused by influenza viruses classified as type A, B or C. Only influenza A and B viruses are included in seasonal influenza vaccines as they cause the majority of disease in humans.
How the virus spreads?
Influenza spreads easily, mainly through large particle droplets produced by sneezing and coughing. Droplets containing the influenza virus also settle onto surfaces, and the virus can then pass from hands to the nose, mouth or eyes. People with influenza can be infectious to others from 24 hours before symptoms start until 1 week after the start of symptoms. In previously healthy individuals, symptoms typically subside within 5–8 days.
Influenza symptoms usually have a sudden onset. The most common symptoms are:
- dry non-productive cough
- nasal congestion
- sore throat
- body aches, fatigue and feeling generally unwell
Older adults and young children can be more severely affected and develop atypical symptoms.
- Vaccination is the best protection against influenza and its complications
- Practising hand hygiene and cough etiquette (such as covering the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing) can help reduce the chances of getting and passing on the influenza virus.
- People who are sick with influenza should stay home from work, school and social gatherings to prevent close contact with and transmission to other people.
Why is it necessary to receive another dose of the influenza vaccine each year?
The influenza virus changes frequently. Each year, the dominant strains differ and a new vaccine is created to target the current strains. The vaccine is most effective for the first 3-4 months after vaccination (though it is expected to continue to offer some protection after this period).
Can influenza vaccines cause the influenza?
There is no live virus in the influenza shot, so you cannot get influenza from the vaccine. The vaccine can cause some mild “flu-like” side effects such as body aches, fever and fatigue which may be mistakenly thought to be an influenza infection.
Who should be vaccinated?
Annual influenza vaccination is recommended for all people aged ≥6 months unless contraindicated (refer to link for Contraindications).
Influenza vaccination is strongly recommended for anyone travelling overseas in 2022.
There are a number of groups that are at increased risk of influenza and its complications. Influenza vaccination is strongly recommended and funded on the National Immunisation Program for the following groups:
- Children 6 months to 5 years of age
- Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people
- Pregnant women (during any stage of pregnancy)
- Adults ≥ 65 years of age – this age group receive different version of the vaccine which is designed to increase the immune response to the vaccine
- All individuals aged ≥ 5 years with medical risk conditions (Please refer to link)
If you are not eligible for the free vaccine, the cost of one vaccine is $25.00.
To book an appointment, please click the button below.
The Team from Randwick Doctors Medical Centre
- Influenza vaccines for Australians: https://www.ncirs.org.au/sites/default/files/2022-03/Influenza-fact-sheet_March-2022%20update_FINAL.pdf
- Seasonal influenza vaccination 2022: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/immunisation/Pages/flu.aspx
- ATAGI Statement on the Administration of Seasonal Influenza Vaccines in 2022: https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2022/02/atagi-advice-on-seasonal-influenza-vaccines-in-2022.pdf