As the weather cools down, flu vaccination becomes a hot topic.
No one wants to get the flu, but what’s the best way of avoiding it? There’s no silver bullet, but the flu vaccination is an option that you could consider.
First things first, learning more about the flu can help you make an informed choice.
The season for sneezin’
While there’s not really a strict ‘flu season’, we often see an increasing number of people struck down by the flu occur between May and October in Australia. From late August cases begin to decrease right through to October.
The flu can come on very suddenly and is commonly spread via the air through coughing, sneezing and close contact. Direct contact with the virus on people’s hands or on surfaces can spread the flu too.
A cold or the flu?
Often when people say they are sick with the flu, they often just have a common cold. Don’t be fooled – the flu isn’t just your average stuffy nose and cough.
Both are unpleasant, but the flu – short for influenza – is a far more debilitating viral infection that can be dangerous, particularly to children and older Australians.
|Fever||Rare||High fever lasting 3-4 days|
|Aches and pains||Slight||Common, can be severe|
|Fatigue and/or weakness||Mild||Prominent, can last 2-3 weeks|
|Cough||Usually mild, sometimes moderate||Common, can be severe|
Flu jab or not?
Choosing whether to opt for the flu immunisation is a personal choice.
The flu vaccination is very affordable so cost doesn’t need to influence your decision.
It is worth knowing that unlike some other vaccines, there is no live virus in the flu shot and you cannot get the flu from the vaccine.
According to the Australian Government’s immunisation program, flu vaccinations are free and recommended for the following groups of people:
- all people aged 65 years and over
- all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 6 months to 5 years
- all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over
- people aged 6 months and over with medical conditions predisposing to severe influenza
- pregnant women
It’s important to know that the flu vaccination is required yearly to be effective as the vaccine is changes to better protect against the strains that are expected for each year.
Prevent the flu
Whether or not you decide to have the flu jab, prevention is always the best idea.
Working in early childhood settings, be extra cautious about preventing the spread of flu germs as babies and young children are more susceptible.
Simple things like covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze and washing hands thoroughly. It’s even worthwhile to clean your phone, computer’s keyboard and other devices you touch regularly.
This is a general guide to the flu – if you have questions or concerns about your health or whether the flu shot is right for your personal circumstances, get in touch with a healthcare professional.