2019 flu vaccines: the complete guide for the Mornington Peninsula

Winter is coming. Since we often experience four seasons in a day in Melbourne, it can be hard to tell sometimes. But one season invariable turns up when it’s least welcome: flu season. The Departments of Health advises that vaccination is the best protection with the highest effectiveness to protect against this potentially deadly disease. Our flu clinic will be open in our Main St, Mornington clinic in early April. For those eligible under the government National Immunisation Program, it’s free. For everyone else, the out-of-pocket cost is just $15.

Who should get a flu vaccination?

As flu is highly contagious, anyone can get it. For certain people though, the potential complications are extremely severe. Influenza can lead to pneumonia or can prove fatal in some cases. That’s why the government allow anyone with these medical conditions to receive their flu jab for free:

  • Older adults (65+)

  • Indigenous Australians (6 months+)

  • Pregnant women

  • Anyone aged 6 months+ with medical conditions that can lead to complications from influenza, such as:

    • COPD and other lung conditions

    • Diabetes (type 1 and type 2)

    • Impaired immunity such as HIV infection

    • Malignant cancers

    • Chronic neurological disorders

    • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are also at increased risk of severe complications from influenza

Our flu clinic opens on April 1st and runs on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Please call us to book in.

 
 

These people may not be eligible for a free vaccine under the government scheme, however they’re still at higher risk than others:

    • Those with long term medical conditions

    • Obese people

    • Smokers

    • Anyone with a weakened immune system

    • Women planning pregnancy

    • People who live or work in aged care homes or long-term facilities

    • Homeless people, and the people who care for them

    • Healthcare workers

    • People who live or work in the same household as someone who is at high risk of serious disease from the flu

    • People who work in early childhood education and care

    • People who work in the chicken or pig industries, if there is an outbreak of bird flu or swine flu

    • Those travelling overseas

    • All children over 6 months and all adults

IS IT SAFE TO GET A FLU VACCINE WHILE PREGNANT?

Yes it is safe, and important to do so. Getting the flu can cause serious complications during pregnancy as each woman’s immune system, heart and lung function are all changing. It can also be problematic for the baby, potentially causing premature labour.

It’s also important for pregnant women to be immunised because they pass the antibodies on to their baby - babies less than 6 months old are too young to be vaccinated themselves.

The influenza vaccine:

    • protects women during pregnancy and in the early months of motherhood

    • protects young infants with transplacental antibodies

    • protects young infants with antibodies in breast milk

There is no live virus in a flu shot, so any mild flu symptoms after a vaccine are usually an immune response from the body without risk of catching the actual flu virus. However, if you have flu symptoms even after you’ve had your vaccine, you should immediately see your GP. They may want to prescribe an antiviral medication, which works best within 48 hours of infection.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS YEAR’S FLU SHOT?

It’s important to update your vaccine each year, as the Influenza virus constantly changes and adapts. Your vaccine’s protection last year will have also diminished.

This year there is a new A strain (H3N2) and a new strain for the B Victoria linage.  Influenza virus strains included in the 2019 seasonal influenza vaccines are:

  • A (H1N1): an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09 like virus

  • A (H3N2): an A/Switzerland/8060/2017 (H3N2) like virus

  • B: a B/Colorado/06/2017 like virus (not included in the trivalent vaccine)

  • B: a B/Phuket/3073/2013 like virus

WHEN SHOULD I GET MY FLU SHOT?

Flu season peaks between May and October. Each vaccine only lasts a year, so we recommend April for your jab, as experts advise your 2018 vaccine will start wearing off. It’ll take most people two to three weeks to develop their immunity. Make sure to practice good hygiene until you get your jab as you’ll be susceptible to infection during this period.

Our flu clinic opens on April 1st and runs on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If you’re unsure about the best time for you given individual circumstances, please contact us or visit us at Main St, Mornington for advice.

 
 

What are the flu vaccine side effects?

The flu vaccine can cause the following side effects, most noticeable in children under 5:

  • drowsiness or tiredness

  • muscle aches

  • localised pain, redness and swelling at the injection site

  • occasionally, an injection-site lump (nodule) that may last many weeks but needs no treatment

  • low-grade temperature (fever).

If you’re worried about unexpected or persistent side effects following your vaccine, for you or a child, please arrange to visit our Main St, Mornington clinic for a doctors appointment as soon as possible, or visit the hospital. Although there is no ‘live virus’ in the vaccination that could cause you to contract influenza itself, seek medical advice if you are unwell as it could be caused by something different.

There’s a small risk of serious allergic reaction following any vaccine. Although this is rare, it’s why you’re advised to stay at the clinic for at least 15 minutes following immunisation in case further medical attention is required.

 
 

Cold vs. flu - what’s the difference?

Whilst they’re both respiratory diseases, the flu is generally more severe. Symptoms will come on much more abruptly. Influenza is also much more likely to lead to severe complications like pneumonia or bacterial infections than a cold.

What are the symptoms of flu?

It’s useful to learn these symptoms as they’re easier to treat early before they’ve had time to develop:

  • sudden appearance of a high fever (38 °C or more)

  • a dry cough

  • body aches (especially in the head, lower back and legs)

  • feeling extremely weak and tired (and not wanting to get out of bed).

Other symptoms can be:

  • chills

  • aching behind the eyes

  • loss of appetite

  • sore throat

  • runny or stuffy nose.

How long does flu last?

Most often for several weeks. However, it can also cause severe complications like pneumonia and bronchitis or cause existing medical conditions to worsen.

A typical bout of flu tends to follow a pattern:

  • Days 1–3: You’ll notice a sudden fever, headache, muscle pain and weakness, dry cough, sore throat and sometimes a stuffy nose.

  • Day 4: Your fever and muscle aches start to decrease. You’ll sound hoarse with a dry or sore throat, cough and possible sense of mild discomfort in your chest discomfort. You may feel tired or flat.

  • Day 8: Your symptoms decrease. A lingering cough and tiredness may last one to two weeks or more.

 
 

How do I treat the flu?

They often say the best form of treatment is prevention, so make sure to get your vaccination. Wash your hands regularly, especially before eating or drinking. Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow and stay at home if you notice any symptoms.

If you do have flu, get plenty of rest and drink lots and lots of fluids - particularly water. If you’ve got a sore throat, try and eat soft foods that won’t aggravate it.

If you don’t experience any complications, flu treatment doesn’t require prescription medication. In some cases, doctors might prescribe antiviral medication to reduce the severity and duration of your symptoms. Over-the-counter medication might also help relieve symptoms like headaches, muscle aches or fever, though they won’t impact the viral infection.

If you have any concerns about your symptoms though, it’s always safest to see your GP at our Main St, Mornington clinic. If you also have any of these symptoms, book an appointment with your doctor as soon as you can:

  • Trouble breathing

  • Chest pain

  • Sudden dizziness

  • A cough that isn’t improving

  • Confusion

  • Severe vomiting

  • Fever with a rash