Winter flu and you

flu virus under the microscope

Last year we had a horror flu season, one of the worst on record, which caused unexpected deaths and multiple admissions to hospital for patients young and old across Australia. To protect you and your family here are some simple steps you can take to minimise infection and transmission.

Spreading the illness
– Wash your hands thoroughly
– Don’t share cups or cutlery
– Cough or sneeze into your elbow
– Use tissues and dispose of them into the waste bin
– If your child is sick keep them home from daycare or school to prevent spreading the illness

To prevent influenza there is a vaccine. The flu vaccine is free for
– Children aged 6 months to 5 years
– anyone over the age of 5 years with a chronic health condition
– all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over
– pregnant women (influenza vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy)
– people aged 65 years and over
– health workers

The evidence demonstrates that those who are vaccinated against the flu are less likely to get sick and less likely to get admitted to hospital. The vaccine also stops the spread of flu in the community and prevents those that are too young or too sick to be immunised from becoming infected. The vaccine is an inactivated (killed) virus. It will not give you the flu. Side effects of the vaccine include pain and redness at the site of injection. Less commonly, children may develop a fever or aches and pains, which last one to two days.

Vaccination remains the best protection against influenza to help keep you well this winter. To prevent becoming struck down with the flu get a flu vaccine.

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John Greenfield