Guard against flu this winter

PROTECTIVE MEASURES: The more people who are vaccinated, the less likely that the flu will spread in the community.
PROTECTIVE MEASURES: The more people who are vaccinated, the less likely that the flu will spread in the community.

This year's flu vaccine is available for adults over 16 years to receive. In store we have Influvac Tetra.

Every year the formulation of the flu vaccine changes and this year we have the quadvalent injection which has two strains of Influenza A and Influenza B.

The more people who are vaccinated, the less likely that the flu will spread in the community.

Influenza is a major cause of illness in the Australian community, and in some cases can result in death.

It is important to get the flu shot each year, as the virus changes each year.

In addition we know that the protection provided by the previous year's vaccine diminishes over time.

This year there is a new A strain (H3N2) and a new strain for the B Victoria linage.

Influenza virus strains included in the 2019 seasonal influenza vaccines are:

  • A (H1N1): an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09 like virus
  • A (H3N2): an A/Switzerland/8060/2017 (H3N2) like virus
  • B: a B/Colorado/06/2017 like virus (not included in the trivalent vaccine)
  • B: a B/Phuket/3073/2013 like virus

Most people will develop immunity within two to three weeks of vaccination.

Experts have advised there is recent evidence suggesting that protection following influenza vaccination may begin to wane.

As influenza usually occurs from June, with the peak around August, vaccinating from mid-April 2019 will allow people to develop immunity before influenza transmission is at its peak.

You can also speak with your doctor for advice on the best time to receive your vaccine, based on your individual circumstances.

Symptoms of the flu hit very quickly and may last for several weeks. A bout of the flu typically follows this pattern:

Days 1-3: Sudden appearance of fever, headache, muscle pain and weakness, dry cough, sore throat and sometimes a stuffy nose.

Day 4: Fever and muscle aches decrease. Hoarse, dry or sore throat, cough and possible mild chest discomfort become more noticeable. You may feel tired or flat.

Day 8: Symptoms decrease. Cough and tiredness may last one to two weeks or more.

Combat symptons:

  • Take simple pain-relieving medication such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, as directed on the packet, to ease muscle pain and bring down your fever (unless your doctor says otherwise).
  • Do not give any medications that contain aspirin to children under 18 years of age with flu. The combination of the flu and aspirin in children has been known to cause Reyes Syndrome - a very serious condition affecting the nervous system and liver.
  • Antibiotics are not effective against the flu because the flu is a virus, and antibiotics fight bacteria. However, your doctor may prescribe them if you develop a bacterial infection on top of your flu.
  • Gargle with a glass of warm water to ease a sore throat. Sucking on sugar-free lollies or lozenges also helps.
  • A hot water bottle or heating pad may help relieve muscle pain. A warm bath may also be soothing.
  • Use saline nose drops or spray to help soothe or clear a stuffy nose. These decongestants help shrink swollen blood vessels in the nose. Talk to you doctor or pharmacist about which medication will be the best one for you.
  • Do not smoke - this will irritate your damaged airways.
  • Try warm, moist air inhalation. Boil a kettle and put the water in a bowl on a table. Put your head over the bowl with a towel over your head and inhale the warm air for up to 20 minutes. Don't put anything in the water.
  • Ask for help if you live alone, are a single parent, or are responsible for the care of someone who is frail or disabled. You may need to call someone to help you until you are feeling better.

Remember, if you buy medicine at the pharmacy to treat your symptoms (over-the-counter medications), check with the pharmacist to see if it is the best one for you. Mention if you have a chronic illness or are taking any other medication

References: Better Health and NSW Health