It’s that time of year again and Western NSW Local Health District is encouraging everyone to protect themselves this flu season.
Influenza (Flu) is caused by a virus which is spread easily from person to person through infected droplets in the air and by hands or other surfaces carrying the virus. Itis a serious, often debilitating illness which the affects the whole body, with symptoms including fever, headaches, muscle aches and pains. Children's symptoms may also include nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Acting Manager of Immunisation Services, Carol George, says flu can cause serious illness, with those most at risk including pregnant women, young children, older adults and people with underlying medical conditions.
“We urge anyone who may fall into one of these at risk categories to ensure they are immunised against flu this season. Vaccination is the best protection for you and will also reduce the likelihood that you will pass on the virus to someone else who could be at even greater risk of severe illness,” said Ms George.
Anyone who received a flu vaccination last year should still be vaccinated again this year, as the flu vaccine protection decreases after a year. It takes up to two weeks for the vaccine to produce full protection in your body, whereas the disease itself takes only 1-3 days from when you’re exposed to the germ to when you become sick. It is important to be vaccinated as early as possible and preferably before the flu virus starts to circulate in our communities.
“One of the biggest myths about this vaccine is that people think it might actually give them the flu. This is absolutely not the case, as the flu vaccine does not contain any live virus and is therefore quite safe. It is strongly recommended that all pregnant women in particular be vaccinated as it protects both themselves and their newborn baby,” said Ms George.
Seasonal influenza vaccinations should now be available at your GP and Aboriginal Medical Service. A number of local GPs have started running flu vaccination clinics and people are urged to contact their GP for further details.
The annual seasonal influenza vaccine is available to anyone over the age of six months to reduce the likelihood of becoming unwell with influenza. Under the National Influenza Vaccination Program, free seasonal influenza vaccination is available to:
- Individuals aged 65 years and over
- All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over
- Pregnant women
- Individuals aged 6 months and over with medical conditions that may predispose them to severe illness including cardiac disease, respiratory disease and other chronic illnesses
Many people confuse the common cold with influenza; however colds are much less severe. Here are a few quick tips about what to do if you develop symptoms of flu:
- If you are mildly unwell but not at increased risk, you should stay at home until you are better – but call your doctor if you are worried, have severe symptoms or at risk for severe disease.
- When visiting a doctor, call ahead to see if you can be put in a separate waiting area. Ask for a mask if you are coughing and have to wait near other people.
- Covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and hand washing is very important to help reduce spread of flu amongst the community.
- It is also important that we stay at home to recover from the flu as attending school, work and social events just helps to infect the community.
For more information on influenza see:http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/PublicHealth/Infectious/influenza/index.asp
Dubbo, Tuesday 26th March12:30pm- Media are invited to speak with Clinical Nurse Consultant for Immunisation & Public Health, Carol George, whilst she vaccinates some of our most high profile health professionals at Western NSW Local Health District Head Office,
23 Hawthorn Street, Dubbo.
Orange, Tuesday 26th March10:00am - Media are invited to meet Orange Health Service Director of Nursing & Midwifery, Sue Patterson in the foyer of the hospital. Ms Patterson will be having her immunisation and will also be available at this time for interviews.
For further information or to request an interview/photo opportunity please contact
Media Officer Melissa Hamling on 0417-511-738.