KeepHealthCare.ORG – Wagga health experts bust flu jab myths
Wagga’s health professionals are hoping to prevent another killer flu season this year.
It comes after 24 residents across the Murrumbidgee region lost their lives to the influenza outbreak last season.
A further 650 deaths were reported as having been associated with the virus, according to the Public Health Unit of the Murrumbidgee district.
The districts public health director Tracey Oakman said it was difficult to know how bad each year’s flu would be until it hit.
Ms Oakman said the vaccine, created every year, was the best defence.
“Last year we had a pretty bad season with significant numbers presenting to hospitals,” Ms Oakman said.
“We had more residents presenting for flu than we have had in many years.”
It follows a report of more than 3000 influenza cases across the district in 2017.
This is compared to an average 1100 cases, according to Ms Oakman.
“The flu shot is a really important tool to reduce case numbers,” Ms Oakman said.
“If anyone doesn’t want to have a week off work and be sick with flu, then a vaccine is a good strategy to prevent that.”
To anyone who did not think the disease was serious, Ms Oakman said it could be for those under six months, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.
To those with doubts about the contents of the vaccine, Ms Oakman said there was “absolutely no way” to contract the flu from the shot.
To residents who felt it was not easy to access, she encouraged them to speak with their GP or local pharmacist.
“If you have friends or family in the vulnerable group and you don’t want them to catch the flu, then get vaccinated so you don’t give it to them,” Ms Oakman said.
“The more people get vaccinated the less virus can float around.”
Wagga pharmacist Michael O’Reilly said there were two other means of defence against the flu.
“Wash your hands and sneeze into your elbow,” Mr O’Reilly said. “But the best defence is the vaccination.”
Free seasonal influenza vaccine is funded for those at higher risk of complications from influenza, including:
Children between six-months and five years.
Residents older than five years with medical risk conditions.
All people aged 65 years and over.
All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people older than 15 years.
Click HERE for more information.
Infectious disease expert Professor Robert Booy said the 2018 flu season was “unlikely” to be as severe as last year, which was responsible for a record number of influenza-related deaths across the country.
However, he said influenza remained a major global pandemic threat, with experts saying people must get vaccinated to protect the vulnerable.
Professor Booy predicted this flu season to be “moderate to severe”.