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Let’s talk about something simple but significant.

Winter months are approaching, and so is the annual flu season. The pandemic has caused vaccine fatigue across the country, and the numbers of preventative influenza vaccinations remain low.

Nevertheless, the old adage ‘prevention is better than cure’ rings with truth, and getting the flu vaccination can prevent the disease and its possible complications.

Influenza, also known as the flu, is a contagious infection of the airways that can affect people of all ages. Spread by respiratory droplets from infected people, symptoms include a runny nose and sore throat, cough, cold, fever, lethargy, aches, and pains. Symptoms usually start about one to three days after catching the flu and last for a week or more.

While these symptoms typically improve within a week, and some people recover without complications, the flu can be dangerous for those with weaker immune systems. Risks of flu-related complications include pneumonia, ear infections, asthma, and diabetes.

These are higher in children under five years of age, elderly and indigenous people, and those with chronic diseases. For this reason, Influenza (flu) vaccines are given each year to protect against the most common strains of the virus and reduce the risk of complications.

The TGA states that influenza vaccinations are safe for people aged six months and over. Still, you should speak to your registered health provider about any concerns, possible side effects, or potential risks.

Considering the number of Influenza cases have exploded with 4282 cases recorded on 23 May, everyone from the age of 6 months is now eligible for a government funded flu vaccination until the end of June 2022.

After June, many people qualify for a free influenza vaccine under the National Immunisation Program, and if you’re interested, you can also get your COVID vaccination on the same day.

Aside from vaccination, it is always a good idea to refresh your knowledge about other preventative measures. These measures include washing your hands regularly, avoiding large crowds, and strengthening your immune system.

A strong immune system helps your body fight off infections and helps reduce the severity of symptoms. To build your immunity, sleep at least seven to eight hours per night and maintain a regular physical activity routine.

Follow a healthy, nutrient-rich diet, and limit sugar intake, junk foods, and fatty foods. Instead, eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables full of vitamins and antioxidants to promote good health. Alternatively, speak to your doctor about taking a multivitamin to support your immune system.

Key Takeaway

The flu virus is dangerous to more vulnerable populations and can lead to life-threatening complications. Taking preventive steps to protect yourself and reduce the risk of illness will keep you safe and healthy and make it safer for your family and the wider community. Talk to your doctor about getting a flu vaccination, and be proactive about strengthening your immune system.

At Harmony Family Medical Centre, we offer GP services to people of all ages, but anyone wanting to protect themselves against influenza can talk to their immunisation provider.