Last year was a devastating flu season with 1,100 flu-related deaths around Australia with people over the age of 65 accounting for 90 per cent of these deaths.
This year, the Australian government has announced that the flu vaccine will be mandatory for all aged care workers based on the results of a survey which show a significant link between increase staff immunisation and lower aged care influenza outbreaks.
Should you get vaccinated against the flu and when should you get your shot? The Australian Government recommends everyone aged six months and over should get the flu shot if they wish to protect themselves against the flu. Getting a flu shot also means you help to protect those more vulnerable, such as babies, those over 65 and pregnant women. For those caring for elderly loved ones, the flu shot is definitely a good idea.
The Federal Government’s National Immunisation Program offers free flu vaccines to those most at risk, these include:
The best time to get the flu jab according to the Australian Medical Association is towards the end of April into the beginning of May, to ensure that it protects you through to August and September when many people can succumb to the flu when the virus mutates and the flu shot has worn off those who received their shot too early.
The flu vaccine doesn’t offer complete protection, but is 60 to 70 per cent effective at protecting healthy adults against the flu. In older people or those with impaired immunity, the vaccine is less effective.
This year, the new enhanced vaccines have been developed to specifically target the most common strains of the influenza virus from last year’s deadly season.
Given that the vaccinations don’t offer complete protection from the flu, it’s important to protect yourself and others by taking some simple hygiene and health measures. These include:
If you do happen to get sick, it’s important you protect those around you by staying at home and away from other until 24 hours after your fever is gone.