The Winter flu season is well and truly upon us already, and the thing is, it isn’t even winter yet. With the “real” winter still a few weeks away and the news already full of flu outbreaks, especially in Aged Care facilities, the question begs to be asked, “Is it too late to get your flu shot?”.
The simple answer is no! Definitely not.
When is the best time to get the flu vaccination?
Experts suggest that right now (late May and into early June) is the perfect time to get vaccinated. Vaccinations are strongest for 3-4 months after the injection and therefore if you get the vaccine too early you may not be fully protected for a late outbreak of flu. The flu season normally peaks in August so right now is actually the very best time to get your flu shot.
But I had the flu vaccine last year, do I still need it again?
Yes, as the strain of flu changes each year the vaccines are modified slightly to give renewed and better protection against the strains that are the most common in that year’s flu season. Hopefully one day it will be the case that we can have one injection that will keep us well for good, but at the moment an annual flu vax is recommended. Even if you had the flu last year, if you want to be protected it is still important to get vaccinated for flu annually.
Can I get the flu vaccine for free or do I have to pay for it?
Lots of Australians are eligible for free flu vaccines. The Department of Health has a full list of who is eligible on their website (https://beta.health.gov.au/services/flu-influenza-immunisation-service). These people have been identified as population groups that are more at risk of contracting flu than the general public and therefore vaccination is strongly recommended and is also provided for free for these people from GP’s and health centres.
If you are not on the list you can still access the flu vaccine. GP’s and pharmacists are able to administer the vaccine and the cost is usually around $20.
The more people in the community who are vaccinated, the less the flu spreads.
Will the flu shot make me sick?
When you get the flu vaccine you may develop mild, flu like symptoms. A runny nose and some muscle aches may be part of your bodies immune system learning how to fight a real flu. Any symptoms should be mild and only last for a day or two.
Who should I ask if I’m concerned or want more information?
Want to know more? Head to your GP and ask them about the flu vaccine that is on offer this year and what is suitable for your unique needs.