Flu Season 2017

Winter is Coming

As the weather cools and Winter apporaches with it comes the dreaded flu season.

Who is at risk?

While anyone can get influenza, the following people are at higher risk of complications from influenza infection (and who are eligible for free annual influenza vaccine):

  • All individuals aged 65 years or older
  • All Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people aged 6 months to <5 years or aged 15 years and older
  • Pregnant women.

Individuals aged 6 months and over with certain medical conditions predisposing to severe influenza are also at increased risk (and also eligible for free annual influenza vaccine). These conditions include:

  • Cardiac disease, including cyanotic congenital heart disease, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure
  • Chronic respiratory conditions, including suppurative lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and severe asthma
  • Other chronic illnesses requiring regular medical follow up or hospitalisation in the previous year, including diabetes mellitus, chronic metabolic diseases, chronic renal failure, and haemoglobinopathies
  • Chronic neurological conditions that impact on respiratory function, including multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, and seizure disorders
  • Impaired immunity, including HIV, malignancy and chronic steroid use
  • Children aged 6 months to 10 years on long term aspirin therapy.

Flu Season 2017

How is it prevented?

Influenza vaccination each year before winter arrives is the best way to prevent influenza.

  • Seasonal influenza vaccination is available for anyone aged 6 months and over to protect against influenza, provided they do not have a medical reason that precludes them from receiving influenza vaccines.
  • People at higher risk of influenza complications (see Who is at risk) are strongly recommended to have an annual influenza vaccination, and are eligible for free influenza vaccine under the National Influenza Vaccination Program.
  • In addition to people eligible for free vaccine, annual influenza vaccination is also recommended for those who frequently come in to close contact with other people at higher risk of influenza complications (such as health care workers, and family members), to help protect vulnerable people from infection.

For more information on general influenza vaccine recommendations refer to latest edition of The Australian Immunisation Handbook.

Take action to stop the spread of influenza by remembering to:

  • Cover your face when you cough or sneeze and throw used tissues in a rubbish bin.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often. Wash hands for at least 10 seconds, especially after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose, or use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Stay at home until you're well. Wait at least 24 hours after your fever resolves so you that you are unlikely to infect other people. Keep sick children away from school and other activities.
  • Call ahead to see a doctor. If you think you may have influenza and you need to see a doctor, call first so the clinic can take precautions to reduce the risk to other people.

Further information

For further information please call your local public health unit on 1300 066 055.


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