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As the weather starts to cool down, thoughts turn to flu season. While getting vaccinated is a good idea, there are some other ways you can protect yourself and others.

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.

Getting vaccinated

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:

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • Pregnant women (at any stage of pregnancy)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged six months to five years
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and older
  • People aged six months and over with medical conditions that mean they have a higher risk of getting serious disease (such as diabetes, severe asthma, lung or heart disease)

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.

Does the flu vaccine totally protect me against the flu?

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.

Related post: Old fashioned cold remedies that really work

What are other ways to stop the spread of the flu?

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:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water often. Thorough hand washing involves five steps: wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry.
  • Use hand sanitiser
  • Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough by raising your arm and sneezing into the crook of your elbow, rather than into your hands
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Use tissues rather than handkerchiefs and throw them into the garbage right away
  • Clean frequently-touched items and surfaces with soap and water
  • Eat a healthy diet, get enough rest and make exercise a regular part of your life

What should I do to protect others if I am sick?

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.

This post first appeared on Envigor’s blog.

Belinda Peters
Belinda brings more than 17 years experience in journalism to her role as Seasons Digital Content Writer. As our blog editor, Belinda will take the confusion out of aged care with entertaining and informative stories from across the aged care industry and our Seasons communities.