INFLUENZA has hit earlier than usual this year with almost four times as many people across Australia getting the flu in January and February and ACT Medicare Local is urging Canberrans to get immunised.In the lead-up to National Flu Day on Saturday, ACTML chair, Dr Rashmi Sharma, says to protect our community, we need as many people as possible to get immunised against the potentially deadly strain that has killed many people around the world.
“The impact of flu cannot be underestimated given that complications from influenza kill around 3500 Australians each year – that’s more than the average annual national road toll of 1500 people,” she says.
“Each year flu symptoms confine some people to bed and even hospital, causing lost workplace productivity. This disease is debilitating and can cause pain, fever and headaches.”
Dr Sharma said it was a myth that influenza vaccine gives you the flu as it is not a “live” vaccine.
“Being fit and healthy does not provide complete protection against a serious bout of influenza,” she says.
“We’re also reminding Canberrans who received a flu vaccine last year to be boosted again this year to maintain their immunity. Each year a new flu vaccine is developed to provide protection against the current strains of flu virus.”
Eligibility for the funded seasonal influenza vaccine available from March 15 under the National Influenza Vaccination Program includes:
· All adults aged 65 years and over.
· All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 15 years of age.
· People over six months of age with chronic illnesses.
· Pregnant women.