Flu vaccination more important than ever
Published at: 09 Apr 2020
DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, PEOPLE ARE BEING ENCOURAGED TO GET THEIR FLU VACCINATION AHEAD OF THE COOLER MONTHS, TO REDUCE THE RATE OF INFLUENZA THIS WINTER.
GV Health is encouraging people to see their GP or pharmacist to get the influenza vaccine.
GV Health Safety & Quality Coordinator, Women’s & Children’s and Nurse Immuniser Melissa Dippel said while there was currently no vaccine available for COVID-19, there was a flu vaccine and everyone who can get the injection should do so.
“The Department of Health and Human Services advised the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against the flu is to get the flu vaccine every flu season,” she said.
“GPs and pharmacies are offering the flu vaccine to the community.
“Aboriginal or Torre Strait Islanders, pregnant women, people over the age of 65 years and people aged six months and older with chronic medical conditions are eligible to receive free seasonal vaccine.
“The more people who are vaccinated in our community, the less likely it is the flu will spread.
“Flu is a contagious respiratory disease that can lead to serious illness.”
Ms Dippel reminded the community that receiving the vaccine fell under the Victorian Government’s current guidelines for social isolating.
“It would fall under the medical care guideline, so people do not need to worry about leaving their home to receive the vaccine.”
According to the DHHS, the flu vaccine is safe and effective and does not contain any live virus, so it cannot give you the flu.
“With any vaccination you might get mild symptoms; you might experience minor flu-like symptoms, but you can’t get the flu from the flu vaccination,” Ms Dippel said.
“When people get the flu vaccination it takes two weeks for your body to develop full immunity to the flu. You could still get sick during this two-week period.”
Ms Dippel said there were three different vaccinations available to different age groups.
“There is a vaccine for those over the age of 65 years and a paediatric vaccine.”
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends the annual influenza vaccination for all people aged six months and over.
Ms Dippel said it was important to be vaccinated every year due to virus changes and the protection of the vaccine diminishing over time.
“Protection against influenza is highest in the first three to four months after getting your vaccination,” she said.
“Getting vaccinated in April allows protection during the peak flu transmission period which usually runs from around June to September.”
GV Health staff protected against flu
THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES HAS RAISED THIS YEAR’S TARGET FOR VACCINATIONS AT HEALTH SERVICES TO 90 PER CENT. ALMOST HALF OF GV HEALTH STAFF HAVE ALREADY HAD THEIR FLU SHOT.
Staff are regularly receiving their flu vaccinations at GV Health.
GV Health Safety & Quality Coordinator, Women’s & Children’s and Nurse Immuniser Melissa Dippel said a risk-based approach had been adopted this year, initially focusing on staff who work in high risk areas such as the Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit, Surgical Unit, Maternity Unit and Acute Respiratory Clinic.
“We’ve been focusing on front line clinical staff in high risk areas to begin with and will make our way through to non-clinical staff,” she said.
“The reason behind this is to target staff in high risk areas.”
Ms Dippel said clinical staff had been visited by a roving immuniser recently, as well as a regular clinic running in GV Health’s Graham St Campus at The Hub, Community Health @ GV Health in Corio St, Shepparton and the rural campuses.
“The flu vaccination is yet to be mandated for all healthcare workers, but it has been for all people entering aged care facilities from May 1 this year,” she said.
“As a healthcare worker, it is very important to protect not only yourself and your family, but also the patients we care for, from contracting influenza.
“Vaccination of healthcare workers has been associated with reduced incidence of influenza infection among hospital staff, fewer days of influenza-like illness and reduced absenteeism from work.
“Studies have also shown vaccinating staff members has benefits for vulnerable patients.”