The Coronavirus crisis is masking all news coverage at the moment. Whilst it’s important to stay updated on the outbreak and to do all you can to keep yourself and your family safe, it’s important to remember that life goes on as usual – and so does the annual “flu season”.
Maybe you’re someone who gets a flu shot every year – or maybe you’ve never got one before. Either way, we’re here to explain what the shot does, how it works and to help you learn more about fighting the flu – fast!
Influenza – more commonly known as the “flu” – is a respiratory illness caused by influenza A or B viruses. Flu appears most frequently in winter and early spring – that’s June through to November for us here in Australia.
Flu symptoms can include a runny nose or sneezing, cough or sore throat, fever and chills, headache, body aches and even vomiting and diarrhoea (although this is more common in children).
Truth be told, coming down with the flu is a miserable experience and will put you out of action for a week or more. However, it can be particularly serious for pregnant women, babies and people over 65 years of age.
But there is something you can do to prevent sickness – get a flu shot. The Department of Health advises an annual flu shot as “the flu shot continues to be the most important measure to prevent influenza and its complications”.
Getting your annual flu shot is important because:
- Common strains of flu change annually and the flu shot changes to match them;
- Your immune protection from the flu shot declines over time; and
- The more people who are vaccinated, the less the flu will spread in the community.
So how does the flu shot work? Unlike what most people think, Influenza vaccines will not give you the flu as the vaccines available in Australia do not contain ‘live’ virus. After vaccination, the person will develop antibody levels that are likely to protect them against the strains of virus represented in the vaccine.
Of course, there are other healthy habits you can adopt to help prevent the spread of germs that may cause influenza. Adopting the following behaviours will help you and your loved ones to stay safe.
- If you cough or sneeze, use a tissue and wash your hands after disposing of it.
- Don’t share personal items such as water bottles, cups, plates and cutlery.
- Keep your hands clean – wash with soap and water or use hand sanitiser multiple times a day.
And of course, if you are feeling unwell – stay home from work, school, daycare, and errands when you are sick. You will help to prevent others from catching your illness.
The lead up to winter (April–June) is a good time to get your flu shot in Australia – so talk to us today to ask us any further questions you have about vaccination, and to get booked in.
Visit www.wsgp.com.au or give the practice a call on 02 4861 3855.