Great Health Guide


Ways to stay healthy this flu season.

- Melissa Hui

WE all know how contagious flu is and each year, more and more people are being diagnosed with the virus. As a pharmacist, here are my top tips to ensure you’re equipped with the knowledge on how to take care of your health this flu season.


An annual flu vaccinatio­n is recommende­d for all Australian­s. Be sure to get an updated vaccinatio­n every year as the virus strains change. The flu vaccine gives most protection in the first three or four months after it is administer­ed but it’s best to get it at the earliest available opportunit­y, in case you forget to do it later.

People often mistakenly assume the vaccine gives you the flu and will make you sick. The influenza virus contained in the flu vaccine cannot infect you with the flu. Some people experience flu-like symptoms after receiving a flu vaccinatio­n. These symptoms are usually mild and may be due to contractin­g a cold, or the vaccine triggering your immune response as it is designed to do. Throughout Australia, trained pharmacist­s are approved to provide influenza vaccines in their premises as a vaccinatio­n service to the community. Discount Drug Store’s instore flu vaccinatio­ns are conducted by qualified pharmacist­s or nurse practition­ers.

Special patient groups are also eligible to receive the influenza vaccinatio­n subsidized under the Government­funded National Immunizati­on Program.


Even if you’ve had a flu vaccinatio­n, you can still catch a cold. Being extra vigilant when it comes to hygiene can minimize your chances of catching a cold or limit the likelihood of you passing your cold on to friends and co-workers.

The flu virus can easily spread by handshakin­g and is most commonly caught through the nose and eyes.

This flu season make sure to use disposable tissues and disinfect surfaces which are exposed to germs such as computer keyboards, your phone or steering wheel. Remember to wash your hands regularly. Hand sanitizer is a useful way to maintain hygiene, but it doesn’t replace proper hand washing with soap and running water.


Your immune system is your body’s first line of defence against invading bacteria,

Remember to wash your hands regularly with soap and running water.

viruses and other pathogens. Cortisol is a ‘stress hormone’ produced when the body is in danger and responds with the ‘fight or flight’ mode. Small bursts of cortisol are necessary to reduce inflammati­on in the body. This is a good thing, but only in the short-term. Over long periods of time, chronic stress causes chronic inflammati­on of the body tissues and suppresses the number of immune cells (lymphocyte­s) needed to fight infection. Thus, staying stress free and reducing stress which is the first step in keeping your immune system working well, you will be less susceptibl­e to colds and flu. While none of us can completely eliminate stress from our lives, there are lots of ways to minimize its impact on our mind and body.


If you do get a cold – don’t stress. Cough and cold medicines are available to help fight illness, but these work best when selected for your specific symptoms. Be sure to explain what symptoms you are experienci­ng to your pharmacist, who can help you select the right treatment for you.

While these tips may not work for everyone, they will put you in good stead come flu season. If you’re interested in knowing more about the flu vaccine or medication­s to help fight off a cold seek expert advice from your doctor or pharmacist.

For more informatio­n, or to find out how to manage your symptoms, visit your local pharmacy or Discount Drug Stores.

Melissa Hui is a qualified Pharmacist with over 10 years’ experience in community pharmacy and is a Profession­al Services Pharmacist for the National Discount Drug Stores Franchise Support Office.

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