Get vaccinated to avoid flu
THE flu season is approaching and south-west Queensland residents are being encouraged to get their jabs and avoid becoming one of this year’s influenza statistics.
Darling Downs and South West Public Health Unit director Dr Penny Hutchinson said the aim of this year’s indigenous influenza program, Tackle Flu Before it Tackles You, was to boost immunisation coverage rates across the region.
The program starts on May 2.
“To improve access to the influenza vaccine, in particular for the younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander target audience, immunisation clinics will be conducted in Education Queensland facilities, as well as at health facilities and other venues across the south-west as part of the campaign,’’ she said.
“As in previous years, to encourage participation we will be providing a free t-shirt decorated with indigenous artwork to those who are vaccinated as part of the Tackle the Flu Before it Tackles You campaign.
“This year’s t-shirt will have artwork by Toowoomba-based artist David McCarthy, who won the competition to decorate the shirt.’’
The seasonal flu vaccine will be available through your local doctor, hospital, primary health care clinic or indigenous health service, as well as at the Tackle the Flu Before it Tackles You clinics.
Clinics in the south-west will be held in the following locations on these dates:
■ St George: Thursday, May 4, from 3–5pm at St George State High School.
■ Charleville: Tuesday, May 9, time to be confirmed, at Charleville State High School.
■ Cunnamulla: Wednesday, May 10, time to be confirmed, at the Cunnamulla Shire Hall.
Dr Hutchinson said full protection against influenza was achieved within 10–14 days following vaccination, so good hygiene was still important both before and after someone had their flu jab.
“Between being vaccinated and taking simple health and hygiene measures, all south-west residents can minimise their risks of catching the flu this year,’’ she said.
“It’s just a few minutes of your time and it saves you from the risk of possibly becoming very sick if you catch the flu.
“You need to be vaccinated every year to keep yourself protected because flu strains change annually and you will not be immune to new strains, while your immunity to older strains also reduces over time.’’
The vaccine is free to those people in the at-risk groups under the National Immunisation Program.
JAB: Dr Penny Hutchinson, with the winning artwork for this year’s Tackle Flu indigenous influenza program, and artist David McCarthy, who created the artwork.