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
Why should I have a Pap smear?
Pap smears have been one of the major success stories of cancer prevention; it is very effective at reducing the number of cervical cancers diagnosed and deaths from the disease.
A Pap smear can detect changes in the cells of the cervix. Sometimes these changes may lead to cervical cancer later on, so by finding them early they can be treated before any cancerous changes of the cervix develop.
Like many tests, the Pap smear is not 100 per cent accurate. However regular Pap smears every two years can help prevent up to 90% of the most common type of cervical cancer.
The pap test does not detect cancer of the ovary or other cancers in the reproductive system.
How is a Pap smear performed?
The pap smear is a simple procedure that can be performed by your doctor or specially trained nurse. An instrument called a speculum is inserted into your vagina, allowing your cervix to be clearly seen. A small soft brush is then used to collect a cell sample that is sent to the laboratory for analysis. You may experience a brief minor amount of discomfort during the test. You should receive the results in one week.
Because the presence of blood can make the interpretation of the test more difficult the test not be performed while menstruating.
What if I receive an abnormal smear result?
If your test does have an abnormal result, try not to worry – at least one in every 10 test results may have a notation or comment of some type. There are many reasons why this might happen and most are not serious, so ask your GP for an explanation and discuss any concerns you may have with them. If abnormal cells are noted in the smear you may need to come back for another pap smear earlier than usual or you may be referred for further testing and treatment.
Who should have a Pap smear?
As a general guideline, you should have an initial smear test within 2 years of becoming sexually active. Even if you have had the cervical cancer vaccine, you still need to have Pap smear tests. Subsequent smear tests should be performed every two years even if you are no longer having sex – the risk of cervical cancer increases with age.
You should continue having these tests through menopause until the age of 70, when your doctor may advise that continued testing is no longer required.
If you have had a total hysterectomy, routine Pap tests may no longer be necessary, but it is important that you check with your doctor before discontinuing them.
Who needs more frequent testing?
If you are judged to be at higher risk for cervical cancer your doctor may decide you should have more frequent testing. You are at higher risk if:
- You have a history of abnormal Pap tests
- Your immune system is weakened through HIV or if you are an organ transplant patient
- You smoke heavily.
- You began sexual activity at an early age, especially if you had multiple sexual partners
- You have had a male sexual partner who has had multiple sexual partners
I have heard the pap screen program may be changing – what does this mean?
There are plans to implement a new Cervical Cancer Screening Program in May 2017. This will involve checking for the presence human papilloma virus types that are associated with cancer of the cervix rather than checking the cervical cells. There will also be changes to the age at which we start testing women and also to the interval between performing these tests.
Women will probably notice no difference in the procedure itself which will still require a vaginal speculum examination.
A more detailed description of the proposed changes to cervical cancer screening is available from the National Cervical Screening Program website.
Where do I go for a Pap smear?
All SmartClinic practices offer Pap tests to patients with the cost of collecting the pap smear included as part of the normal consultation,
Pap smear registers are now in operation in each state and territory. These registers are part of Australia’s National Cervical Screening Program. When you have a Pap smear, you will automatically go on to this register for reminders and follow-up, if necessary. It is important that you advise us of any change of address and other contact details.
Staying true to the unique SmartClinics brand, SmartClinics Windsor Medical Centre will make a statement with bright colours, new textures and fresh furnishings as well as an enticing kids play area. Gone are the days of waiting 40 minutes to see a GP while reading four year old magazines in a tiny waiting room.
Patients can still access quality healthcare at the clinic with minimal disruption to GP appointment times. ‘Like’ the SmartClinics Facebook page, to view some before and after shots of the refurbishment once the transition is complete.
More Brisbane residents can now access quality healthcare and experience a new and improved relationship with their GP, as SmartClinics expands from one to seven clinics in the Brisbane area.
SmartClinics has been providing quality healthcare in Chermside since 2011, and is well known by local Westfield shoppers for it’s eye-catching, modern look that sets it apart from traditional GP practices. It boasts a minimal wait time with 95% of patients being seen on time due to the cutting edge technology of Health Max – Australia’s first web-based booking system, designed and developed by SmartClinics and exclusive to SmartClinics and their patients only only.
The next suburb to benefit from SmartClinics’ services is Windsor, with the acquisition of Newmarket Road Family Practice in late 2014. The clinic will soon be refurbished to match the funky fresh SmartClinics brand with modern furnishings, a spacious interior and exciting play area for the kids.
Health First GP clinics located in West End, Arundel, Corinda, Ascot and Alexandra Hills have also recently joined the SmartClinics team, and will soon undergo some nip and tucks to freshen the clinics. More family medical Doctors will also be joining the team, making it even easier for patients to access quality healthcare. This growing network of care allows SmartClinics’ GP’s to access patient health records, shared via a secure program, meaning patients can benefit from continuity of care regardless of which clinic they attend. SmartClinics is set to expand further throughout South East Queensland in the next three years, with its sight set on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.
The SmartClinics Family Medical Centre network aims to keep healthcare costs low for patients. Pension card holders and children under 12 are bulk-billed at all SmartClinics, during normal business hours, and receive significant discounts on consultation fees after-hours and on the weekend. Emergency Service Workers will also be bulk-billed as a ‘thank you’ for their service.