If you are one of the many people who have asked about flu vaccines, then hopefully this newsletter will answer some of your questions. The information is taken from experts in the field and will hopefully provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision this flu season.
What is influenza?
Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is caused by a highly contagious virus that is spread by contact with fluid from coughs and sneezes. The virus has a unique ability to change its surface structure. This means that even if you had the flu or the vaccine one year, your body’s immune system might be unable to fight the new version of the virus.
Who should get vaccinated?
Annual influenza vaccination is recommended for all people aged over 6 months of age that want to reduce their risk of catching the flu.
Are flu vaccines safe?
Generally speaking yes.
Common side affects can include:
- 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)
There is a very small risk of a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to any vaccine. This is why you are asked to stay at the clinic for at least 15 minutes following your vaccination. Apart from anaphylaxis, other extremely rare side effects include febrile convulsions in children.
Does the flu vaccine work?
Yes, but the effectiveness of the vaccine varies from year to year and can range anywhere between from 40-70%. If the flu viruses surface structure changes significantly from one year to the next this is often when the flu vaccine is less effective as it is ‘not a good match’. Vaccination will however provide some level of protection.
What type of vaccine will I get?
The formulation and dose you will get depends on your age.
There are different formulations of influenza vaccines available through the government funded National Immunisation Program this year.
For people aged over 65 years, where able a trivalent formulation will be offered. This age group is more susceptible to one particular strain of the influenza virus and the trivalent formula will and target that particular strain.
For all others (including our little ones) the quadrivalent vaccine will be offered and will provide you with protection against:
- A (H1N1): an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09 like virus
- A (H3N2): an A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016(H3N2) like virus
- B: a B/Phuket/3073/2013 like virus
- B: a B/Brisbane/60/2008 like virus (not in the trivalent formula)
Children under the age of 3 years old require a paediatric dose.
When should I get my vaccine?
Annual vaccination before the onset of each flu season is recommended.
The period of peak influenza circulation is typically June to September in Victoria.
While protection is generally expected to last for the whole season, optimal protection against influenza occurs within the first 3 to 4 months following vaccination and starts to wane after that.
Will my vaccine be government funded?
This year the government will fund vaccines for the following people:
- Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander persons aged 15 years or older
- All children between 6 months and 5 years
- All adults aged 65 years and over
- All persons aged over 6 months who have certain medical conditions which increase the risk of influenza disease complications
- Pregnant women (during any stage of pregnancy)
How do I book?
Sarah, our nurse immuniser, will be running flu vaccine clinics this year. Contact reception on 1300 557 502 to arrange an appointment.
What is the cost?
The flu vaccine will cost $25.00 if you are not eligible for a government funded vaccine. To encourage vaccination against the flu we are waiving the standard nurse fee.
For those that receive a government funded vaccine there will be reduced nurse fee of $10.00 on the day.