Commonly known as ‘the flu’, influenza is a highly contagious disease that can be debilitating and affect the whole body. It is not the same as a common cold. Our doctors urge you to take the flu seriously by getting vaccinated. It’s quick, affordable and may be life-saving!
Who should get a flu shot?
Pretty much everyone can benefit from the flu vaccine. We strongly recommend that pregnant women, the elderly and any children aged over 6 months with chronic medical conditions, get a flu shot as they are at higher risk of developing life threatening complications from the flu. We also urge you and your family to practice good hand and respiratory hygiene as the flu is commonly spread by people coughing and sneezing.
I’m young and healthy. Do I really need a flu shot?
It’s important to remember that even if you’re fit and healthy you could pass the virus onto someone who is at risk of becoming very sick if they catch the flu. If you have children, or older parents or may be contact with any other at risk person then a flu shot is highly recommended.
Why was this year’s flu shot delayed?
The lengthy delay to the start of this year’s flu season was due to a double strain change.Two of the strains in the 2015 trivalent flu vaccine composition differ from those in the 2014 vaccine, which complicates the vaccine manufacturing process. The vaccine delivery is usually expected in March, but this year it was not available until mid-April.
What are the different influenza strains and what do they cost?
Vaccines that give protection against three viruses are called trivalent vaccines. Vaccines that give protection against four viruses are called quadrivalent vaccines.
The routine 2015 flu vaccine available in Australia contains three seasonal influenza strains, with two strain changes from the 2014 vaccine. The three strain (trivalent) flu vaccine costs $20 at all SmartClinics centres. It contains the following:
· A (H1N1): an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1) – like virus, 15 µg HA per dose
· A (H3N2): an A/Switzerland/9715293/2013 (H3N2) – like virus, 15 µg HA per dose
· B: a B/Phuket/3073/2013 – like virus, 15 µg HA per dose
The four strain flu (quadrivalent) vaccine is also available and also protects against an additional B virus (B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus). This is the government recommended vaccine which is issued free of charge to patients 65 years of age or older, pregnant patients, Indigenous people aged 15 years and over or patients with a documented chronic disease.
If you do not qualify for the free flu shot, the four strain vaccine is available for a fee of $30 at all SmartClinics centres.
Note that some doctors may charge a consultation fee for the flu vaccination appointment. Please talk to your local SmartClinics reception team at the time of booking to confirm if your doctor can bulk bill your appointment.
Are there any side effects of the flu shot?
Vaccines, like other medicines, can have side effects, however the majority of side effects are minor. If you do experience side effects they are likely to be mild and short-lived flu-like symptoms as your immune system responds to the vaccine.
What are the common symptoms of the flu?
Symptoms may occur 1 to 3 days after infection, and generally seem like the ‘common cold’. Typical flu symptoms could include:
- sneezing and runny nose;
- poor appetite; and
- muscle aches.
If you or your loved ones experience any of these symptoms this flu season, please see your doctor. Further health problems can develop in some people after flu infection including pneumonia, heart, blood system and liver complications, which can lead to death, especially in children and older people.
Be prepared for the flu season – book your flu vaccination appointment now!
For more information about the flu, such as how it spreads, myths and how to prevent it, click here