What is the flu?
Influenza, more commonly known as the flu, is a contagious health condition caused by the influenza virus. Each year, influenza and associated complications are estimated to be responsible for approximately 310,000 doctor visits.
A flu vaccine is particularly important for young children, adults over 65 years and people with chronic health conditions. Sometimes people confuse the symptoms of the common cold with the flu.
The flu virus infects the nose, throat and lungs, resulting in symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, and muscle and body aches. It can also lead to severe health complications.
What causes the flu?
The flu virus changes very quickly and each year new flu vaccines are released to keep up with the rapidly adapting flu virus. The virus is spread by infected people coughing or sneezing and can also easily spread by surfaces contaminated with cough and sneeze droplets. So, it’s easy to catch and spread, but hard to avoid.
Why get immunised against influenza?
Influenza is a very contagious infection of the airways. It is especially serious for babies, people over 65 years of age and pregnant women.
Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect you from serious disease caused by influenza.
By getting vaccinated against influenza, you can also help protect other people, especially people who are too sick or too young to be vaccinated. The more people who are vaccinated in your community, the less likely the disease will spread.
Who should get immunised against influenza?
Anyone who wants to protect themselves against influenza should talk to their doctor about getting immunised.
You should get the influenza vaccine every year. This is because the most common strains of the virus that cause influenza change every year. Therefore, the vaccine also changes every year to match these strains.
Influenza immunisation is recommended every year for:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over, for free under the National Immunisation Program (NIP)
- people aged 6 months to under 5 years, for free under the NIP
- people aged 6 months or over who have medical conditions that mean they have a higher risk of getting serious disease, for free under the NIP
- pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy, for free under the NIP
- people aged 65 years or over, for free under the NIP
- all children over 6 months and all adults
- women who are planning a pregnancy
- people who live or work in aged care homes or long-term facilities
- homeless people, and the people who care for them
- people who are travelling overseas.
- healthcare workers
- people who live or work in the same household as someone who is at high risk of serious disease from influenza
- early childhood education and care workers
- people who work in the chicken or pig industries, if there is an outbreak of bird flu or swine flu
What are the possible side effects of influenza immunisation?
All medicines and vaccines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they’re not.
For most people, the chance of having a serious side effect from a vaccine is much lower than the chance of serious harm if you caught the disease.
Talk to your nearest Fullerton Health Medical Centre team about possible side effects of the influenza vaccines, or if you or your child have possible side effects that worry you.
Common side effects of influenza vaccines include:
- pain, redness, swelling or hardness where the needle went in
- fever, tiredness, body aches.
Where can you get an influenza immunisation?
Influenza immunisations are available at any Fullerton Health Medical Centre. Find your nearest medical practice.