Nobody likes getting sick.
If you’re one of the thousands of Australians who catch the flu each year, you’ll know all too well that it means having to take time off work and stay in bed to recover. Often, it’s a case of dealing with some uncomfortable symptoms. Sometimes, the flu leads to complications which can be quite serious.
An annual flu vaccination to help you stay protected from infection.
Here are four simple reasons why you should get vaccinated:
You need the flu shot every year
Unfortunately, last year’s influenza vaccination won’t protect you from an infection now. A flu shot lasts up to 12 months, although the virus is constantly changing and evolving. That’s why a new vaccine is formulated annually.
Every year, the World Health Organization (WHO), Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee (AIVC) work together to establish which virus strains the vaccine will protect against.
That means that to stay protected, you’ll need to get a new influenza vaccine every 12 months. Vaccines take about two weeks to start working and are the most effective for the first six months, so Autumn is an ideal time to get your flu shot.
It’s not just about protecting yourself
A vaccine will help protect you as an individual from infection, but it also helps to protect the people around you.
In order to understand how this works, it’s important to have a good understanding of how we catch the flu in the first place. Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that spreads through tiny droplets that are expelled into the air when infected people cough, sneeze, talk, or even breathe. These droplets travel through the airway and are inhaled by other people, or are spread when the droplets land on a surface and are then spread by contact or touch.
This is why we often see large flu outbreaks in places where there are lots of people in a small space, such as nursing homes or schools. The more people that are vaccinated against the flu, the fewer people there are who are carrying this infection, and the safer we are as a community.
Flu complications can be serious
One of the reasons that it’s important to think about the community is because some people carry a greater risk of having serious complications from the flu.
While most of us will start to feel better in a week or so, some people — including babies, people over 65, pregnant women, or people with a compromised immune system — are more likely to have the flu progress into something more serious. This can include bacterial infections such as bronchitis, pneumonia, or encephalitis. If you fall into one of these categories, speak to your local pharmacist about getting your influenza vaccination.
These complications can be serious enough to cause hospitalization or even death. For example, it’s estimated that each year, flu contributes to an average of 13,500 hospitalisations and 3,000 deaths among Australians over 50 years.
It’s especially important to get vaccinated if you are regularly in contact with people who may be vulnerable. For example, if you:
Live or work at a nursing home
Live in close quarters with lots of other people (for example, university housing)
Have friends or family with chronic illness
Work in healthcare
Work at a school or with young children
Work in a customer service role
It’s quick and easy
You don’t need to book an appointment with your GP, nor do you need to spend hours in a waiting room.
At Capital Chemist, we provide a convenient, quick and easy vaccination service. It only takes a few minutes and is completed in a private consulting room in-store. Usually, there’s no appointment required and the vaccine can be done on the spot.
Fees and charges apply, and there are age restrictions which vary from state to state. Visit your local Capital Chemist and chat to your pharmacist to confirm that this service is right for you.
Whether or not you’re vaccinated against the flu, it’s important to practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of germs. Remember to:
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap
Use a disinfectant hand gel
Wipe down regularly touched items such as keyboards, mobile phones, and door handles
Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze using a tissue or the inside of your elbow
In the unlucky event that you do catch the flu, your local Capital Chemist can help. Our pharmacists are available to provide advice and guidance and suggest which treatments are suitable to treat your symptoms. They may even be able to issue you with a workplace leave certificate
or a carer’s certificate. Conditions apply, so be sure to speak to your pharmacist.