Flu Facts

   VACCINATION FACTS  

Vaccination is the most effective protection against influenza.

(source Sanofi Pasteur)

THE BEST DEFENCE IS GETTING VACCINATED

By getting vaccinated you reduce any risk of getting flu and spreading the virus to others. The vaccine cannot give you flu as it is manufactured from an inactive dead virus.

WHAT IS INFLUENZA?

Seasonal influenza, or “the flu” as it is commonly called, is a contagious disease caused by the A & B strains of the influenza virus. The flu is often classified as a respiratory disease, but may affect the whole body.

The infection:

  • begins suddenly
  • may keep you in bed for several days
  • may take up to 2 weeks to fully recover
  • can disrupt your work life or holiday plans
  • can result in serious complications in high risk individuals

FLU IS VERY CONTAGIOUS

The virus that causes influenza can easily spread from person to person when a person infected with flu sneezes or coughs as little droplets containing the virus are carried in the air. Direct contact with another person who is infected with the flu virus can also spread the virus. Public places such as airports, public transport, shopping centres, and offices are likely hot spots for flu virus. It does not matter how healthy you are, you are still at risk of catching the flu bug.

WHO IS AT RISK OF CATCHING THE FLU?

Anyone can catch the flu. Being fit and healthy does not stop you from getting it. You can also unknowingly infect others, as you may be contagious 1 day before and up to 5 days after symptoms to appear.

The flu is a highly contagious disease that spreads via:

  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • touching contaminated objects and transferring germs to the respiratory system

CAN YOU AFFORD TO GET THE FLU?

Can you or your company afford to be away from work for a week or two? Fever and lethargy may last a week, but a cough may be more severe and may last several weeks. Severe flu may cause you to be in bed for a week or more. Close proximity to colleagues in a close workplace environment is very conducive to catching the virus. Being away from work will impact your health and business.

CONSIDER THE POTENTIAL COST OF CATCHING THE FLU

Taking time off work may result in financial hardship or missing out on important life events, because you are unable to get out of bed for several days.

WHAT DO SEASONAL QUADRIVALENT INFLUENZA VACCINES (QIV) CONTAIN?

Quadrivalent influenza vaccines: These vaccines include two A strains and two B strains of influenza virus.

                     A    H1N1               A   H3N2                  B   Brisbane                   B    Phuket

SOME COMMON SIDE EFFECTS OF SEASONAL FLU VACCINATION

Seasonal influenza vaccines will not give you the flu. The vaccines available in Australia do not contain 'live' virus. They strengthen your natural immune system by helping it to recognise the virus.

Common side effects include soreness, redness, pain and swelling at the injection site, drowsiness, tiredness, muscle aches and low grade temperature (fever).

These side effects are usually mild and go away within a few days, usually without any treatment.

You should contact your doctor if you are concerned or your child has a persistent high temperature.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • 'Influenza' (or flu) got its name in the 15th century in Italy because the disease was attributed to the 'influence of the stars'.
  • The pandemic 'Spanish' influenza in 1918-1919 caused 21 million deaths worldwide.
  • Droplets containing the influenza virus settles onto surfaces such as doorknobs, phones, and cups and you may get the flu if you touch these surfaces then touch your eyes, mouth, or nose before washing your hands.
  • Annual vaccination is considered as the most effective protection against the flu by health authorities worldwide including the World Health Organisation.

IS IT THE FLU OR A COLD?

Influenza is worse than the common cold, and symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough are more common and intense.

Colds are usually milder than the flu with symptoms such as runny noses and generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalisations.

WHEN TO VACCINATE

The best time to be vaccinated against influenza is from March to May in anticipation of winter outbreaks.

ANYONE CAN GET THE FLU

Even people who are healthy and fit can get the flu. But some people are more fragile and therefore more likely to get flu and develop complications.

MEDICAL CONDITIONS ASSOCIATED WITH INCREASED RISK OF INFLUENZA DISEASE COMPLICATIONS

  • Cardiac Disease
  • Chronic respiratory disease
  • Diabetes and other metabolic disorders
  • Renal disease
  • Chronic Neurological Disease
  • Immune impairment eg. HIV infection
  • Long term aspirin therapy in children aged >6 months to 10 years
  • Haematological disorders

Persons who have any condition that compromises the management of respiratory secretions and are associated with an increased risk of aspiration should be vaccinated.

Although not funded on the NIP, other individuals with at-risk conditions including Down Syndrome, obesity and chronic liver disease should consider an annual flu vaccination.