Flu season.
Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin
Flu season. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin Allan Reinikka ROK030516apharmac

Get immunised: 2017 flu vaccine available now

THE Wide Bay Public Health Unit is urging members of the community to access the 2017 flu vaccine, which will soon be available from doctors and immunisation providers.

The 2017 flu vaccine quadrivalent vaccine protects against two 'A' and two 'B' strains of influenza. Those people most vulnerable to the flu are eligible for government-funded vaccine.

Distribution of funded vaccine by Queensland Health started on April 10 and all immunisation providers should be stocked by mid next week and ready to provide free shots to those who are eligible.

"Vaccination is the best defence against the flu and it is especially important to be vaccinated if you belong to an at-risk group,” WBHHS Public Health Physician Dr Margaret Young said.

"Groups eligible for a free vaccine include anyone aged 65 and above, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged six months up to their fifth birthday and aged 15 and over, women at any stage of pregnancy, and anyone with a chronic medical condition that predisposes them to influenza complications. This includes severe asthma, lung or heart disease, low immunity or diabetes.

"If you are in any of those groups, it is important that you visit your doctor or immunisation provider to access your free shot.

"It is also important to remember that full protection from influenza only occurs 10 to 14 days after you are vaccinated.

"That said, it is never too late to be vaccinated because the Queensland flu season usually peaks in late August to early September.”

Those who are not eligible for the free vaccine can still receive a shot from their doctor or immunisation provider.

"I strongly urge flu vaccination for everyone working in childcare and early education, the health sector, residential and aged care, poultry and pig industries,” Dr Young said.

"I also recommend vaccination for anyone providing essential services, travelers, people in contact with others in high-risk groups and anyone else who wants to reduce their risk of flu.

"It is also important that we take active steps to prevent the spread of the flu, regardless of whether people are vaccinated or not.

"People should frequently wash their hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand gel, use a tissue or the inside of your arm to sneeze or cough, put used tissues straight into the bin and clean frequently touched services such as door handles, fridge doors, tables and benches. "

"If possible, stay one metre away from others with flu-like symptoms and stay at home when you are sick.”



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