Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Get the Facts on the Flu Jab; New Vaccines to Offer Better Protection

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Get the Facts on the Flu Jab; New Vaccines to Offer Better Protection

Article excerpt

Byline: Rebecca Sullivan

WE'RE officially in flu season.

The 2018 National Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Program has started and people in at-risks groups are now able to go to their doctor and get the flu shot for free.

For the past few years Australia has had record-breaking, fatal flu seasons. So this year a few changes have been made to the vaccine to try to boost its protection abilities.

News.com.au asked Associate Professor Aeron Hurt from the World Health Organisation's influenza centre everything you need to know about the 2018 flu vaccine.

WHAT AM I BEING PROTECTED AGAINST?

The flu is different to the common cold - it's more than just a runny nose.

Symptoms include a dry cough or one with phlegm, chills, a fever, body aches, congestion, swollen lymph nodes and a sore throat. The flu can become so bad it can leave you bedridden for days or even send you to hospital.

Several Australian adults and children died last year from the flu and hundreds were hospitalised.

The flu vaccine protects you from four strains of the influenza virus - two type A viruses, called A/H1N1 and A/H3N2, and two type B influenza viruses, called B/Yamagata and B/Victoria.

"These are the groups of viruses that we will see in the coming year," Prof Hurt said.

HOW DO I GET THE VACCINE?

Many workplaces offer a free flu vaccine for employees, but if yours doesn't and you're an otherwise healthy person, you can get one from your local GP for about $15, plus the cost of the doctor's consultation fee if they don't bulk bill.

The vaccine is free for some "at-risk" people under the National Immunisation Program.

Those included in the program are:

People aged 65 years and over;

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged six months to less than five years;

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are aged 15 years and over;

Pregnant women;

People aged six months and over with medical conditions such as severe asthma, lung or heart disease, low immunity or diabetes that can lead to complications from influenza; and

This year several states (Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and the ACT) have expanded their free vaccine offering to children under five years of age. …

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