Just a Thought
Have we become blasé about the flu?
Although bird flu gets a lot of attention these days, the regular old flu still poses a public health threat, and government officials have now said that some medications used for flu last year may no longer be effective this year.
The Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee (AIVC) met on 6 October 2005, and agreed to adopt the September WHO recommendations of vaccine components for the 2006 influenza season. Ref: http://www.tga.health.gov.au/committee/aivc2006.htm
When is a good time to get flu shot?
The best time to be vaccinated against influenza is in autumn, before the influenza outbreaks in winter — early April — so your body has time to develop antibodies against the virus.
Will the flu shot protect from bird flu if there is an outbreak among humans?
An annual flu shot will not protect us specifically from bird flu, but it will reduce the risk of simultaneous infection with human and bird flu viruses. This is important because simultaneous infections are the main way that viruses swap genes and create new strains that can potentially cause flu pandemics.
Do we need to receive a flu vaccine every year?
Yes. The influenza virus changes all the time and the vaccine is changed to match the current circulating virus. The vaccine will provide about 70% protection against infection for about one year. Annual vaccination is necessary to provide continuing protection against the most recent influenza virus.
Is the vaccine safe?
Yes. The most frequent side effect of vaccination is soreness at the vaccination site which may last up to two days. “Flu-like” symptoms such as fever, fatigue and muscle soreness can also occur. These symptoms only mimic the flu. The vaccine cannot cause influenza.
Immediate allergic reactions (such as hives, asthma, breathlessness or collapsing) rarely occur after influenza vaccination. These reactions are probably the result of an allergy to egg protein, which may be present in the vaccine.
Who should not be vaccinated against influenza?
Persons who have an allergy to eggs should not be given influenza vaccine. This includes people who, on eating eggs, develop swelling of the lips or tongue or experience acute respiratory distress or collapse. Influenza vaccine should also not be given to persons who have a fever associated with another illness. Your doctor or health care provider will be able to advise if the vaccine is required.
Is it possible to catch the flu after being vaccinated?
It takes about two weeks for the body to develop immunity against the influenza virus after yearly vaccination. During this time, contact with people who may have influenza should be avoided. However, even if you do catch the flu, the likelihood of developing complications from the infection will be much reduced.
If anyone skipped the flu vaccine last year they may be at a higher risk of infection. Acknowledging this serious situation, the National Influenza Vaccine Program for Older Australians will again this year run the influenza protection campaign, providing free flu vaccine to all Australians aged 65 and older.For information on the Influenza Vaccine Program for Older Australians contact the Immunisation Info-line on 1800 671 811 or visit the Immunise Australia website at http://immunise.health.gov.au.
Wishing you a peaceful and relaxing week!
Project Manager and Editor, Quality4life
20 January 2006