Australia's had over 4,000 cases of this disease this year... Are you at risk?

It’s only early April and despite flu season kicking in later this year, the flu has already been contracted by over 4,000 Australians. The flu is getting more and more dangerous every year as the virus mutates and becomes stronger. And after scientists developed the latest vaccination that protects against four strains of the flu (a world first), over 60s need to vaccinate now. We were lucky to get some important information about the flu and also spoke to Doctor Ginni Mansberg who is the regular doctor on Channel Seven’s Sunrise program.

What you need to know about the flu and the Flu/Quadri Vaccination:

The general public will have the opportunity to access Flu/Quadri on private prescription this flu season which typically runs from May to October. The Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) approved the vaccine in December last year. It is estimated that every year the flu causes around 18,000 hospitalisations and between 1,500 and 3,500 deaths in Australia as a result of complications like Pneumonia and secondary bacterial infections.

We spoke to Doctor Ginni to learn a little more about the flu vaccine and what else we can do to protect ourselves…

 

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When is the best time to vaccinate?

The flu season typically runs from May – October, and it’s advisable for people to be vaccinated before the season starts.

Should over 60s vaccinate every year?

It’s not only over 60s that should vaccinate every year, I believe every eligible person should vaccinate against the flu. The government subsides flu vaccination for over 65s as this group is considered to be high risk in that they’re more likely to experience severe complications of the flu. That said,  flu can be incredibly unpleasant and costly for people of any age and vaccination is the best form of protection.

This year for the first time people in Australia will have access to quadrivalent influenza vaccines (QIVs), which include coverage against an additional B strain of influenza.

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As well as getting the vaccination, what other things should over 60s do to prevent getting the flu? 

Vaccination is hands down best way to avoid getting the flu. Over 60s should first and foremost consider vaccination.

As well as vaccination, it’s important to make sure your immune system is in good shape. This means plenty of sleep, a good diet and moderate daily exercise. Tackling stress will also be important.

Another important factor is good hand hygiene before eating. Washing hands with soap before eating is an easy measure to stop the spread of germs.

Many older people worry about limiting exposure to grandchildren during flu season. Avoiding family members for 6 months of the year in my opinion is too high a price to pay. Vaccination is a much more effective measure to avoiding the flu and making sure you can enjoy precious time with loved ones throughout the flu season.

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So make sure you take Doctor Ginni’s advice and get the Flu/Quadri Vaccination before it’s too late!

Tell us, have you been vaccinated against the flu? How do you keep healthy in winter?