Protect against the flu this winter
Published at: 17 May 2019
With flu season in full swing, Goulburn Valley Health’s Infection Prevention and Control Consultant Elizabeth Smith is encouraging community members to protect themselves against influenza.
Ms Smith encouraged all who were eligible to receive the vaccine to do so, either through their work place, their GP or local pharmacies.
She explained why it was important for those who could receive the vaccine to do so.
“If we vaccinate everyone in the community, the flu is less likely to spread,” she said.
“If a big cohort of people are vaccinated against the flu then there’s less chance of transmission.”
Ms Smith also dispelled some of the common myths surrounding the flu vaccine.
“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,” she 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 Smith said people that did not want the vaccine often said they never got sick but these people could still be at risk of infecting others.
“Sixteen per cent of the population can actually get the flu and not experience any symptoms,” she said.
GV Health’s director of pharmacy Shams Zaidi explained the different types of vaccinations and what they protect against.
“We use a vaccination called Fluquadri,” he said.
“There are three types of flu vaccinations.”
Mr Zaidi said there were different vaccinations for children, adults and the elderly.
The vaccine for children and adults protected against four strains of the flu while the elderly dosage protected against three strains.
You never forget the flu
GV Health has already seen a flu outbreak this season.
GV Health’s Director of Intern Training and Clinical Supervision in the Emergency Department, Dr Carolyn Kamenjarin said ED was currently getting a lot of presentations of people with flu-like symptoms.
“They often present with a running nose, sore throat, aching muscles, a cough and tiredness,” she said.
Dr Kamenjarin said they ensured these people wore a mask and encouraged those presenting with these symptoms to ask for a mask on arrival.
“We assess them to see if there are any underlying complications of the flu,” she said.
“If they’re well enough to go home we will send them home; sometimes we can provide early treatment called Tamiflu which is an anti-viral medication.
“If they have an underlying disease or if they’ve got complications of the flu such as pneumonia, we will admit them to hospital.”
Ms Smith highlighted the fact the recent outbreak reflected what was going on in the general community.
“If you know you are unwell please don’t come to work; keep a 1.5m distance from people; and stay away from crowded places,” she said.
Ms Smith also encouraged patients to contact their GP ahead of time if they planned on visiting with the flu.
“Stay clear of others in the waiting room,” she said.
Ms Smith said these were some of the most effective ways of stopping the spread of the flu as well as coughing into your elbow rather than your hand and using alcohol-base hand rubs for decontamination and disinfection.