Articles, Blog


November 23, 2019

The benefits of the influenza vaccine I
guess you could look at it in two senses there’s the general benefit to the
community and there’s the specific benefit to the individual from a
community point of view we have certain members of our community who are much
more susceptible to severe disease and if we can control the amount of disease
in the population we can protect those vulnerable individuals so in that way
everyone being vaccinated helps to protect the more vulnerable members
of our community. In 2017 we had a really bad flu year in New South Wales there are in fact about the 650 deaths from influenza across the state we had a much
better year in 2018 we only saw about 40 deaths across the state we really think
that the reason we had a much better year in 2018 was the high levels of
vaccination in our local population there was a widespread awareness
campaign flu vaccinations were provided free to high risk groups and we think
that had a really good effect on the numbers of people presenting with
influenza. The best time to have the flu vaccination has changed a little bit in
recent times people are used to having the flu vaccine in early autumn around
March but we think that the maximum benefit of the flu vaccine probably only
lasts three to four months so we’re now recommending that people delay a little
bit to around April for having their influenza vaccine each year. I get my flu
shot every year in April just to prevent getting all the symptoms and you know
potentially missing out on work from all the sickness that I’d be experiencing so
I think it’s a good thing to do just to completely you know shut it down before
you have any potential of actually getting the flu. In 2015 South Australia
and Western Australia started doing flu vaccinations in pharmacies for their
patients and in 2016 the other states began to follow including New South
Wales but I believe it was introduced so that patients could get better access to
flu vaccines pharmacies are open longer hours pharmacies have more readily
accessible by most people and it’s quite affordable for people to be able
to access it protect themselves and their potentially
more vulnerable family members against the flu In our community there are a
number of groups at high risk of catching influenza we think of
particularly the very young so children under five years and the elderly
so adults over 65 years but also patients who have chronic disease at
quite high risk of influenza so people with chronic liver disease chronic
kidney disease chronic lung disease or chronic cardiac disease people with
cancer or immune conditions are quite high-risk people might find it
surprising that pregnant women at very high risk of influenza and are
particularly at high risk of complications from influenza so it’s
especially important that they seek immunization early So not every pharmacist can provide a flu vaccination they actually need to go through an
accredited course before they can do that this course is to ensure that
vaccines are stored appropriately administered appropriately and patients
can be monitored closely after they’re vaccinated to make sure that there’s no
small chance of a side-effect that may occur you’ll know that your pharmacist
is accredited to provide the flu vaccine by an accreditation certificate that you
should see in the consultation room where you get your flu vaccination I have had the flu before and I experienced fevers high temperatures
feverish chills a lot of coughing dizziness and it lasted for about ten
days almost two weeks I know for myself missing out on work is extremely
stressful and in turn can affect your mental health and it can be quite awful When the flu season hits it’s really important that we have good flu hygiene
and that means washing your hands regularly and if you need to cough
please cough in to the crook of your elbow not into the air around you So if you do happen to get the flu the best things that you can do provide yourself some
supportive measures so simple things like paracetamol or ibuprofen they’ll
keep the fever down and keep the pain away if you have certain symptoms like a
runny nose or a cough you can use cold and flu tablets most importantly make
sure to wash your hands use a hand sanitizer those things can help prevent
the spread of the disease to your friends and family don’t go to school
don’t go to work or university at that time as well because we don’t want to
spread the flu around to other people ED’s get very busy in winter and you
find that people are crowded close together and
last thing we want is for people to be infecting each other in the ED
environment if you’re coping okay at home there’s no need for specialised
testing you can go and see your GP or you can call the health direct line for
advice of course if you’re really worried so for example you’re having
chest pains or difficulty breathing or you’re confused of course you should
come to emergency and we’re here to help if you need us The vaccine is available
free of charge to a number of groups in our community in particular people age
65 and over are entitled to a flu vaccine every year in addition to that
we have other groups such as children five and under who are entitled to a
free vaccine pregnant women who are also at risk from influenza are entitled to a
free vaccine and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander patients are
entitled to a free vaccine Influenza can be a very serious illness so it’s very different to the common cold and that’s something we get asked the time which
is is this flu or is it a cold how do the difference with flu is it comes with
a high fever it comes with aches and pains and it could come with
complications such as pneumonia confusion other things influenza in the high-risk groups can be a very serious illness we’ve heard deaths from
influenza we’ve seen people critically requiring ICU from influenza so
influenza can be a very serious illness but we have a great tool to prevent it
in immunization and it’s important that we make sure people are offered that

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