THE flu (influenza) season will soon be upon us.
It's time for everyone to think about how we can prevent its spread in our community.
Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that spreads easily from person to person through coughing, sneezing and close contact.
Symptoms include fever, sore throat, runny nose, watery eyes, headache and muscle aches which develop suddenly and last about a week. In some cases, severe illness and complications such as pneumonia and bronchitis can develop which may result in hospitalisation and even death.
The flu can be especially dangerous for elderly people, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and very young children.
People with underlying medical conditions can be at risk of complications.
Annual seasonal influenza vaccination is the best way to prevent influenza and associated illness.
The Australian Government recommends getting a flu shot every year because the virus is constantly changing.
The flu shot changes every year as well so it can protect against flu strains most likely to be around during the winter.
A few things you may want to know about flu vaccines:
- Children can begin to be immunised from six months of age.
- The flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women at all stages of their pregnancy.
- There is no live virus in the flu shot, so you can't get the flu from the vaccine.
According to the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, people with egg allergy can be safely vaccinated with influenza vaccines.
If a person has a history of severe allergic reaction to egg they are advised to receive a full vaccine dose in a medical facility where staff is experienced in treating severe reactions.
Immunisation is one of the great success stories of modern medicine and public health.
We know that some diseases have been eradicated and others are well under control because of immunisations.
Flu shots are available at most GP surgeries and some pharmacies.
If you have any questions about immunisations, contact Queensland Health on 13 HEALTH.
DR JANE TRUSCOTT