During the next month the influenza vaccine will become available. Influenza can be quite a serious disease, particularly if you have underlying medical conditions. Anyone with chronic heart conditions, lung conditions, diabetes etc is susceptible to the complications of influenza, and therefore anyone with any of these underlying conditions should be immunized every year.
In Australia the Flu Vaccine is available free to everyone over 65 years of age.
Are there any side effects?
All that can happen is that you get a slightly sore arm and you might have a touch of fever, but you really can’t catch influenza. One of the big myths about this whole thing is that people say you can catch influenza from having the vaccine but that’s not the case.
After any vaccine, it takes a couple of weeks for antibodies to develop so during that period you’re still at risk. The flu vaccine does not stop you catching the common cold and when people catch this is it common to hear them say ‘oh well the vaccine didn’t work, did it’. But that’s not the case. Colds are usually shorter in nature and much less severe that the flu.
Should well people consider the flu vaccine?
Immunization is also recommended (but not necessarily free) for people who can put vulnerable people at risk of infection. People who work with or live in close contact with people who have an underlying medical condition or reduced immunity are also recommended to be vaccinated to avoid spreading the virus and to protect themselves and their family. They include:
* Public and private hospital staff who provide direct care to patients
* Staff in long-term care facilities or nursing homes
* People who live with, or care for someone who has a chronic illness or is aged
* Carers of homeless people
* Workers, particularly those in workplaces that provide essential services
* People who work with children
* People involved in the commercial poultry and pig industry
* Workers in other ‘high risk’ industries
* Anyone traveling as part of a group
I am pregnant – does this matter?
Influenza vaccine is recommended for women planning a pregnancy and for pregnant women at anytime during the pregnancy.
So as the flu season approaches seriously consider immunization.