Now good time for flu jab

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Health - Dr Lucy Ros­man

WITH the morn­ings be­com­ing chill­ier and the coughs and colds coming home from work and school, now is a good time to con­sider the in­fluenza vac­cine and whether this is ap­pro­pri­ate for you.

In­fluenza or “flu” is a vi­ral in­fec­tion that usu­ally causes fever, aches and pains, headache, cough and fa­tigue.

In some cases the flu can cause bron­chi­tis and pneu­mo­nia, which can re­sult in hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion and even death.

The flu can also ex­ac­er­bate cer­tain med­i­cal con­di­tions such as asthma or heart dis­ease.

The flu can be very dan­ger­ous for el­derly peo­ple, preg­nant women and very young chil­dren.

The best way to pre­vent in­fluenza is the flu vac­cine.

There are many dif­fer­ent strains of in­fluenza and each year the vac­cine changes to in­clude the strains that are most com­mon and se­ri­ous.

The Na­tional Im­mu­ni­sa­tion Pro­gram pro­vides a free flu vac­cine for peo­ple over 65, Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der peo­ple over 15, preg­nant women and those with chronic med­i­cal con­di­tions such as asthma, heart dis­ease, im­paired im­mu­nity and di­a­betes.

The WA Gov­ern­ment also pro­vides free flu vac­cines to all chil­dren aged six months to five years.

From 2011 un­til to­day more than 50,000 West Aus­tralian chil­dren have re­ceived flu vac­cines and there have been no safety con­cerns re­ported.

Each year, hundreds of chil­dren are ad­mit­ted to hospi­tal with in­fluenza and up to 10 per cent end up in In­ten­sive Care. We strongly en­cour­age par­ents of chil­dren in this age group to con­sider im­mu­nis­ing their child.

There is new ev­i­dence that the ef­fec­tive­ness of the flu vac­cine wanes with time and it is im­por­tant to be cov­ered around the time of peak in­fluenza in­fec­tion, which in Perth is in Au­gust.

We rec­om­mend vac­ci­nat­ing any time from May on­wards, and it is never too late to have a flu vac­cine.

A private vac­cine is avail­able for those not at high risk who do not wish to chance be­com­ing un­well and re­quir­ing up to a week or more away from work or school.

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