New flu vaccine free from today

Just over a month later than the planned available date, the flu vaccine has become available to all Australians today. Monday April 20 marks the date that the stronger flu vaccine that protects against two new influenza strains, updated from the Northern Hemisphere. Luckily, the vaccine is free for anyone over the age of 65.

We ran an article on one type of vaccine, the Flu/Quadri vaccine that hopes to reduce the amount of serious flu cases in Australia that currently causes over 18,000 hospitalisations every year and between 1,500 to 3,000 deaths as a result of complications. This new vaccine covers four strains of influenza, and is available you’re your doctor on private prescription. Although it isn’t involved in the free vaccination program, it is highly effective. Last week we spoke to Doctor Ginni Mansberg, the regular doctor on Channel Seven’s Sunrise program who gave us all we need to know about the flu and the Flu/Quadri vaccine this year.

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?

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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.

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.

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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.

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?