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Your best protection against influenza (flu) is the flu vaccination. According to the Department of Health, on average, a vaccinated person is 40-60% less likely to experience the flu (based on infected people presenting to GPs or hospitals) than an unvaccinated person.
A highly contagious disease of the respiratory tract, the flu spreads water droplets are dispersed through the air via sneezing or coughing from an infected person. A sneeze can contain up to 2 million virus particles, travel at 160 km/h, and spread up to 1.5 metres. When these land on surfaces, the virus can be picked up by people who touch the surface up to 2 days later.
People are infectious and can spread the virus before they even know they are sick, and remain infectious until 5-7 days after symptoms begin. Washing your hands for 20 seconds or using a hand sanitiser containing 60-95% ethanol or isopropanol is an essential part of flu prevention. Antibiotics are not effective against the flu as it is a viral disease.
The flu is different to the common cold and can lead to life threatening illnesses such as pneumonia, heart and other organ damage, brain inflammation or brain damage and even death. For the elderly, people with poor immune systems and people with pre-existing respiratory, cardiac and endocrine disease—influenza can be a significant illness and may even cause death.
Flu Symptoms and how they differ to a cold
Even if you don’t get any of these conditions, having the flu is a miserable experience, and will put you out of action, and off work or school for a week or more. Some people are ill for much longer.
Why vaccinate against the flu?
The most effective weapon against flu and its complications is the flu shot. The more people who are vaccinated, the less the flu will spread in the community. April–May is usually a good time to get your flu shot in Australia. It’s particularly important to get your flu vaccination this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, although the timing of your COVID-19 vaccine may affect when you are able to receive a flu vaccine. Some people who are at high risk of complications from the flu will not be able to be immunised, so it’s important that healthy Australians do everything they can to avoid spreading this disease.
Since the flu virus is always changing, a yearly vaccination is recommended. Recent studies show that flu vaccines provide the best protection three to four months after vaccination. It takes up to 2 weeks to get full protection from this year’s flu shot.
In Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales, people 10 years and older are eligible for the flu vaccination to be administered by a pharmacist. Please note that you will need to stay in the pharmacy for 15 minutes after your vaccination so we can observe and assist should you experience a reaction.
Protect yourself and those around you from the flu this year. Arrange a vaccination at Ramsay Pharmacy with a quick and convenient in-store appointment.
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A free vaccine is available from your GP and through pharmacists in Victoria (though a consultation fee may apply) for those at high risk of contracting or having complications from the flu including:
- People aged 65 years and over
- People aged six months and over with one or more of the following conditions:decreased immunity, organ transplant recipients, heart disease, Down syndrome, obesity, chronic respiratory conditions, chronic nervous system disease, chronic liver disease, diabetes, kidney disease.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- Pregnant women
Outside Victoria, pharmacists are unable to administer the flu vaccination under the National Immunisation Program.
Some side effects encountered after receiving the flu vaccination may include:
- Drowsiness or tiredness
- Muscle aches, localised pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
- Injection-site lump (nodule) that may last a few weeks but needs no treatment
- Low-grade temperature (fever)
Most side effects usually pass within 24 to 48 hours.
The easy answer is no. Australian flu vaccines do not contain live virus particles.
You need a flu vaccination each year as the flu virus frequently changes. The flu vaccine is updated every year according to the most common strains likely to affect Australia during the winter season. The benefit of the flu vaccine tends to wear off after three to four months.
The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy advise that the vaccine distributed in Australia and New Zealand is derived from the influenza virus and is grown in a hen’s egg. Once purified, the amount of residual egg ovalbumin present in each vaccine dose is usually less than 1 microgram. This is substantially less than the amount of egg protein that is likely to trigger reactions in people with an egg allergy - estimated at 130 micrograms if taken orally. The occurrence of a reaction is extremely rare.
Yes. The flu vaccination is a low risk procedure and our team have taken additional precautions to ensure your safety. When preparing the vaccination our team will adhere to physical distancing and then administer the vaccination from the side to further lower the risk. The short contact time is low-risk, and hygiene procedures including using hand sanitiser will be used throughout the process along with additional cleaning. Book online and complete the pre-vaccination screening questionnaire on your phone before your appointment to spend less time in the pharmacy.