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Should I get the flu Vaccine?

It’s not just about you, its about the community – you could be a carrier!

With flu season almost upon us, many people will be asking themselves “do I need the flu vaccination?” or “who in my family needs Fluvax®?”

Here are some facts and tips to help you and your family to get through flu season unscathed!

Influenza is not the same as the "common cold"

A cold is much more mild than ‘the flu’. A cold may keep you down for a few days with symptoms such as sore throat, cough, runny nose, headache and fever.

By comparison, influenza can cause people to be bedridden for days to weeks with symptoms including fever and chills, headache, severe muscle aches, fatigue that can last weeks and sometimes vomiting and diarrhoea as well. Influenza can often develop in to pneumonia, a severe chest infection that is one of the leading causes of death in the elderly population.

Unfortunately the flu vaccine does not protect you from the common cold, as the common cold is usually caused by a different type of virus. The flu vaccine is specific to influenza.

For a lot of Australians the flu vaccine is free!

The Australian Government’s National Immunisation Program aims to give flu vaccine access to all at-risk Australians. For these people the flu vaccine is essential. The groups that are covered are:

  • Anyone aged 65 years and over
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from 15 years of age
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged from six months to less than five years
  • Pregnant women
  • Anyone aged 6 months and over with one or more of the following medical conditions:
    • heart disease
    • severe asthma
    • chronic lung condition
    • chronic illness requiring medical follow-up or hospitalisation in the past year
    • diseases of the nervous system
    • impaired immunity
    • diabetes

This does not by any means indicate that these are the only groups that should be vaccinated. It is very important for individuals who come in to contact with these at-risk Australians to vaccinate as well to prevent transmission.

Only a small of people experience flu-like side effects from the flu vaccine, and they are usually very mild 

The vaccine can cause symptoms such as headache, muscle aches and mild fever in 5-20% of patients, however in all child and adult studies there were no vaccine related deaths or serious adverse events reported.

Contrary to popular belief, the flu vaccine does not contain any live influenza strains

The influenza vaccine is an inactivated influenza vaccine that contains antigens for the influenza strains that are most prevalent in the world today. There is no possible way to catch influenza from the flu vaccine itself.

When your immune system’s cells recognise an antigen they ‘tag’ it for destruction, allowing your body to fight off infection. This means that if the body is later exposed to an infection that it recognises the element of surprise is lost, and the body’s immune system can activate it’s defences quickly and effectively, negating the infection.

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By getting the flu vaccine, you are helping your community!

As mentioned, the people who really suffer when they contract influenza are the people who benefit the most from the wider community vaccinating as well. A healthy, middle-aged adult might miss a week of work if they contract ‘the flu’. They may experience some nasty symptoms as well. But they are likely to recover completely in a number of weeks.

But if that person has passed on the virus to someone at risk then real problems can occur. Did they visit their elderly mother for lunch a few days ago? Did they just get back from meeting their beautiful newborn niece or nephew before the symptoms hit? What about their friend that cannot receive the vaccine due to illness or allergy?

By vaccinating you are protecting yourself, as well as the people close to you. The vaccine is safe, inexpensive and effective, and I would recommend that everyone that is able to gets themselves vaccinated every year.

If you would like more information on the flu vaccine, or have any questions or comments, please contact us on (02) 6652 2336, on our live pharmacist chat, or drop in to CHC Pharmacy and say hello!


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