It’s that time of the year again when people begin to ask “have you had your flu shot?”
Influenza is a highly contagious viral illness that infects the upper and lower respiratory tracts.
Symptoms may include:
• Sore throat
• Dry cough
• Muscle and joint pain
• Fatigue and extreme exhaustion
Apart from causing a few weeks of misery, influenza can lead to serious complications and death.
Last year (2017) was a particularly bad season with the influenza virus said to have affected 350,000 people and contributed to more than 11,000 deaths (Royal Australia College of General Practitioners, 2018).
Vaccination remains the best way to reduce your risk of becoming sick with influenza, however early vaccination is no longer recommended.
Recent studies have revealed the optimal time to be vaccinated against influenza is May – June in preparation for the peak infection rates in August – September.
This is especially important for those people who are at high risk, including the elderly.
Annual vaccination is required as a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time.
In some individuals the response to the vaccine declines a lot faster, especially those in high risk groups, at a rate thought to be somewhere around 8% per month. Hence the importance of avoiding early vaccination that was often thought productive in past years (Centres for disease control and prevention, 2017).
It is important to keep the influenza vaccination rates high in order to protect not only ourselves but also those vulnerable members of our community.
Everyone over the age of 6 months should receive an influenza vaccination, and the government funds the vaccine for a range of population groups including; young children, the elderly, those who suffer chronic disease, pregnant women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The vaccine is also available for purchase for those that are not covered by the government funded vaccine.
This year the Australian Government has 2 new vaccines on offer for those aged 65 and above. These vaccines target the increased requirements of the immune system in this age group, therefore producing a higher percentage of immunity.
At TSMP we will be running several flu clinics where we will address your individual vaccination requirements. Speak with one of our receptionists to book your appointment today!
Author – Tamara Altman
© Townsville & Suburban Medical Practice, 2018.
Graph sourced from: http://www.immunisationcoalition.org.au/news-media/2017-influenza-statistics/