It might only be
April, but 2019 is already shaping up to be a tough year for influenza.
Hospitals, GPs and aged care facilities are reporting abnormally high cases of
To date, 2019 has seen
more notifications of influenza compared to the same period in the previous
five years. March alone saw over 19,000 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases,
compared to roughly half that number in March 2018.
June to September is
considered peak influenza season, but April is the perfect time to get
vaccinated against the flu. The vaccine is most effective for the first six
months, so getting your shot now will protect you over the peak period.
While everyone is
susceptible to the flu, there are particular groups in the community who are
especially at risk of infection and developing complications from the virus.
It’s especially important for these people to get the flu vaccination in time
for the influenza season.
Older people and
In NSW, this year
there have already been 13 outbreaks of influenza in aged care facilities –
with another 10 outbreaks in Queensland over the same period. Aged care
facilities are particularly vulnerable to flu outbreaks, as older people are
more likely to have ongoing health issues and compromised immune systems.
Aged care facilities
also see a large number of visitors, with people coming to visit their
grandparents and families. This means that there are more people congregating
in enclosed spaces, providing plenty of opportunities for the influenza virus
There are a few
reasons why pregnant women are considered high risk when it comes to the flu.
Firstly, pregnancy can affect different parts of the body including the immune
system, meaning that it doesn’t function to the same level as it does usually.
This can mean that the body has a difficult time fighting off viruses like the
The flu can also be
serious for developing babies or newborn babies, who can catch the flu off of
their mothers. Because babies haven’t had time to build up healthy immune
systems, the flu virus can lead to other complications, like bronchiolitis and
For healthy children,
the flu can seem like a bad cold. Some children, however, particularly kids
under five and those that suffer from chronic health conditions, can develop a
very high fever or complications of the flu, like pneumonia, bronchitis, or an
Much like in aged care
facilities, children often spend times indoors with lots of other children and
adults, in kindergarten, daycare or school. While adults are conscious of
hygiene practices that can prevent spreading the flu, like regularly washing
hands and covering our mouths or noses when we cough or sneeze, children are
often less diligent about these behaviours. This, plus the fact that children
often share books and toys, means that the virus can easily spread.
Torres Strait Islander people
are more likely to contract the influenza virus, and more likely to have more
severe outcomes. That’s why the influenza vaccine is free to all Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over as part of the National
Immunisation Program – as are people aged 65 years and over, and all pregnant
One of the most
difficult parts of staying healthy and avoiding getting the flu is that the
virus is continually changing and developing. That’s why new flu vaccines are
developed every year to stay up to date and provide protection against strains
that are more likely.
Flu vaccines are
important for everyone aged six months and over. It’s not just about protecting
your own body from the virus, but the entire community. Mid-April is the
perfect time to get yourself and your family vaccinated before influenza transmission
is at its peak.
Speak to your Capital Chemist Pharmacist today about booking an
appointment for your flu vaccine. Age restrictions apply for children.