It’s that time of year again. With the cooler temperatures upon us, we’re at a higher risk of getting the flu.
And nobody wants that.
That’s why South West Hospital and Health Service Executive Director of Medical Services, Dr Nova Evans, is encouraging residents to get their flu jabs.
“Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your family.
“It’s just a few minutes of your time and it saves you from the risk of possibly becoming very sick if you catch the flu.
“We also have the local show season getting under way throughout the South West during the coming weeks.
“Having a flu shot before you go will help ensure you are protected from infection and that you don’t infect others,” says Dr Evans.
With the warm weather yet to leave us completely, the South West has only recorded two positive flu results – but the next few months are what the HHS are trying to combat.
“However, state-wide so far this year, there have already been more than 2500 positive notifications of flu,’’ she said.
“Last year, we recorded a total of 141 positive notifications of flu in the South West, which was significantly higher than in 2014 or 2013.
“You need to be vaccinated every year to keep yourself protected because flu strains change annually and you will not be immune to new strains, while your immunity to older strains also reduces over time,” says Dr Evans.
The flu vaccine that is available this year protects against four current strains of influenza – two ‘A’ strains and two ‘B’ strains.
People who are at a higher risk of developing severe complications from influenza are especially encouraged to get it.
The at-risk groups include:
- All adults aged 65 years of age or older
- Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years of age or older
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged six months up to five years of age
- Individuals six months of age or older with medical conditions predisposing them to severeinfluenza
“While healthy adults usually recover quite well, influenza infection can lead to other medical complications such as pneumonia.
“The flu can also be high risk for pregnant women, creating a greater chance of serious problems for their unborn babies and possibly leading to premature labour,” says Dr Evans.
Some of the symptoms of the flu include:
- Sudden fever
- Dry cough
- Muscle aches and pains
- Sore throat
- Stuffy or runny nose
Dr Evans says vaccination is the single best way to prevent seasonal flu, however there are other measures that we can implement to minimise it’s spread.
“Prevention is one of the most important actions for stopping the spread of the flu,” she said.
“Good hygiene can help reduce your risk of spreading or catching the flu.
“If you are feeling unwell or have the flu, stay home and avoid spreading the flu to vulnerable and at-risk people.”
The flu vaccination is available through your local doctor or primary health care clinic, and is free to those in the at-risk groups under the National Immunisation Program.