FLU - Confused - Speak to your GP

By: Caroline Graydon - Manager & Noelene Steinmann RN - Clinical Nurse Co-ordinator

FLU - Confused - Speak to your GP

Over the news, you will have read that it is important to have your ‘flu shot’ as soon as possible.  However, we are receiving conflicting advice from the media.  Before taking any steps speak to your GP as various vaccines have been appointed for medical-specific age groups this year.

In 2017 Flu Season there was a record number of cases of influenza types and related deaths.  In view of this, the Government has NOT released the free vaccines yet.  The practice does stock Afluria for those ineligible for free vaccines for ages 18-64 only.

First, what does the flu shot do?

Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.

When is the flu season?

This time of year is called “flu season.” It's more common to catch the flu, or experience flu-like symptoms, in the colder months of the year (April to October). (the information about current flu risk levels and trends across Australia is based on calls to the healthdirect helpline).

 How long can you have the flu?

A bout of the flu typically lasts one to two weeks, with severe symptoms subsiding in two to three days. However, weakness, fatigue, dry cough, and a reduced ability to exercise can linger for three to seven days.

 Are you contagious when you have the flu?

The Flu Is Contagious. Most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than 7 days. Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body.

How can you prevent getting the flu?

  1. Avoid close contact. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. ...
  2. Stay home when you are sick. ...
  3. Cover your mouth and nose. ...
  4. Use tissues….dispose of correctly and directly after use
  5. Wash your hands. ...
  6. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. ...
  7. Practice other good health habits…eat well….adequate fluids…keep fit

The Australian Medical Association is urging people to hold off getting this year's flu vaccine, saying the vaccinations are offered too early.

The AMA's national president Michael Gannon said the timing of the flu shot was important.

"Doctors are working closely with the Health Department on this year's seasonal vaccination program, trying to get the best possible value out of the huge investment and to protect as many vulnerable populations as possible." Part of those discussions is about when exactly the vaccine should be released

 "Remember why you need to have a vaccine every year is the influenza virus rapidly and quickly mutates. It will be appropriate for some patients to defer having their flu shot until well into April.”

Dr Gannon said people should speak to their GP about the best time to get the flu shot.

So those patients who are at higher risk are over the age of 65, some groups of children, people with chronic disease, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Dr Gannon said the AMA welcomed any positive promotion of vaccination.

"The AMA want retailers to be every bit as professional as GPs are and indeed those employers who organise free vaccinations for their staff," he said.

Reference: The Australian Medical Association and ABC News:  James Carmody

Disclaimer:  The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of the Medical Centre, or any other provider within the clinic.

Back to top