How do you get the flu vaccine?
COOLER nights herald the start of winter, and with it the potential for influenza infection.
Last year Australia experienced one of the worst flu outbreaks on record and to help control another outbreak, the annual National Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Program has begun, with vaccines available from today.
The flu vaccines will be available at most GPs, Aboriginal Medical Services and council and community health clinics that routinely provide vaccination services.
Flu shots are available for free to members of the community who are pregnant, children up to five years of age and people over 65 years of age, most Aboriginal people and those with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart problems. It's best to book an appointment for the free flu vaccine.
Director North Coast Public Health Unit, Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) Paul Corben said: "The NSW Government is spending a record $22.75 million on state-wide immunisation programs in 2017-18 which includes a $1.75 million immunisation campaign and $3.5 million for free flu shots to children up to five years of age”.
Mr Corben said best time to have the flu vaccine was in April or May to ensure your protection doesn't wane before the flu season peaks.
"It's very important to have the appropriate vaccine, for example, elderly people need to have the special vaccine that targets their age group.”
Mr Corben said the composition of the vaccine was not something NSW Health has control over, but the World Health Organisation advised this year's flu vaccine will be a better match to the circulating strains and offer higher protection than last year.
Supply of vaccines under the National Immunisation Program was determined by the Commonwealth Government in conjunction with vaccine manufacturers. The Commonwealth Government was also responsible for the timing of the flu vaccines, based on advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.
Mr Corben said the Northern NSW Local Health District has a comprehensive winter strategy for the winter flu season, which included procedures for allocating additional resources during periods of high demand, providing free flu vaccinations for frontline health staff and promoting good hygiene practices that help fight the spread of flu.
Vaccination was the best protection against the flu, but the following steps also help prevent the spread of influenza:
- Cough and sneeze into your elbow
- Clean your hands
- Stay home when sick.
If you need medical advice, call your GP in the first instance or healthdirect on 1800 022 222. However, if your symptoms are severe or you are having trouble breathing, go to a hospital emergency department or call triple zero (000) for an ambulance. Health practitioners had warned against getting the vaccination too early, saying the flu vaccines wear off after two to three months. They advised you seek medical advise at to the best time to get the vaccination.