It is that time of year again where Influenza vaccinations become available at GP practices and flu clinics open! This is no different for the Panaceum – with weekly nurse-led influenza clinics running.
Influenza or “the flu” is a highly contagious virus that is spread by droplets – sneezing and coughing or direct contact with these bodily fluids on surfaces. Three types of influenza exist – types A, B and C. Each year the flu vaccine is likely to change to provide coverage to the most dominant strains at the time.
The elderly, those with chronic conditions, the young and pregnant women are more likely to develop complications as a result of having the influenza virus and therefore are encouraged to have the influenza vaccination. It is estimated that roughly 3000 people die from the flu every year. Immunisation of people at risk from the flu is the most important and effective method we have to reduce the number of flu infections and deaths.
Causes of the Flu
As mentioned above – it is highly contagious and is spread by coughing and sneezing or by contact with a surface covered in infected fluids. Family members or others who live in close contact to those affected by chronic medical conditions or those conditions where immunity is reduced – should also consider immunisation to minimise the spread to others.
Symptoms of the Flu
- High fever, chills and sweating
- Sore throat
- Weakness and lethargy
- General joint and muscular pains
- Non-productive cough that can become productive (coughing up sputum)
How are the flu and the common cold different?
- Cold symptoms only last for a few days, but the flu can last up to a week and in some cases longer
- The flu usually causes a significantly higher temperature
- Joint and muscle pains don’t occur with a cold.
- Colds usually have a runny nose, whereas the is dry.
Complications are common in at risk groups, and can increase the risk or serious complications and death. In a small number of cases the flu can lead to pneumonia, bacterial pneumonia, inflammation of the brain or Reye’s syndrome.
Treatment of the Flu
The flu is a virus and therefore CANNOT be treated with Antibiotics. In recent years Antiviral Medications have become available. These medications are only useful and effective if given early after symptom onset. These medications may only reduce symptoms and do not usually prevent them.
Vaccination with the Influenza Vaccine is the primary way to control influenza.
Treating yourself for the Flu
- Rest until you do not have a fever
- Keep up your fluids and make sure that you are still going to the toilet regularly
- If you do get a fever – take paracetamol. For adults this is 1gram of paracetamol up to 4 times a day, 4 hours minimum between doses. For children – dosage is based on weight and it is best to consult the label on the bottle for the most appropriate dose for that weight.
- Avoid things that cause coughing and sneezing such as dust, fumes, tobacco smoke etc.
- If you develop difficulty breathing, or your sputum becomes yellow or green – consult your usual GP.
The Influenza Vaccination
Did you know?
- Influenza causes more deaths per year than road accidents
- Each year the flu causes more than 18,000 hospitalisations
- Do you want to be one of these statistics?
Each year a new vaccination against the flu is released based on the most common strains evident in populations across the world. The ideal time for vaccination is NOW – between march and may typically.
The Influenza vaccination does not protect your for life – Annual Re-vaccination is required.
The 2014 vaccination is providing coverage against the following strains:
- A/California/7/2009 (H1N1) – Like virus
- A/Texas/50/ (H3N2) – Like virus
- B/Massachusetts/2/2012 – Like virus
It does take approximately 10-14 days to develop immunity after vaccination. The National Immunisation Program funds vaccinations for:
- Those aged 65 and over
- Children under 5 years
- Pregnant women
- Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander People 15years and over
- People with chronic conditions including: cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory conditions, chronic neurological conditions, disabilities, children on long term asthma therapy, lowered or impaired immunity, diabetics, chronic renal failure
Vaccination in Children
- There has been a significant amount of ‘bad’ publicity regarding vaccination in children for the flu after significant side effects in children several years ago. This was in regards to the brand ‘BioCSL’. This brand has now band its use in children under 5 years of age.
- The Panaceum group prides itself on having a policy that outlines our refusal to administer this brand where resources allow. We use Vaxigrip, Fluarix and Influvac brands.
- Child influenza vaccination for those over the age of 6 months. In the childs first year of having the influenza vaccination – they are required to have two doses 4 weeks apart.
- If you are interested in having your child vaccinated – please call us to make a booking.
Vaccination in Pregnancy
Vaccination is now safe during all trimesters of pregnancy, however you should consult your GP or Obstetrician prior to having this vaccination done.
Having the vaccination will provide protection for yourself and also for your baby for the 1st 6 months of life.
People who should consider vaccination include:
- Hospital staff, nursing home staff, carers of those with a chronic disease or carers for homeless people.
- Those working with children
- Travelling overseas
- People working with poultry or pigs
If you are unsure if you meet the criteria for a funded vaccinations – call us at the Panaceum Group to ask a Nurse – Or consult your GP in your next appointment.
If you would like to pay to have your vaccination – the Panaceum can provide this to you for $23.00. these vaccinations can be given to you at one of our nurse-led clinics or can be arranged on your next visit you’re the GP.
How to prevent the spread of the Flu
- Get your yearly influenza vaccination at The Panaceum Group
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when your cough or sneeze
- Throw your tissues in a bin lined with a plastic bag.
- Wash your hand after sneezing and coughing – or consider an alcohol based hand rub.
- Avoid rubbing your eyes, nose or mouth so prevent germs from spreading
- Do not go to work if you are unwell to avoid spreading it to your colleagues
- Don’t send sick children to school or day-care
- Approach your workplace about work based vaccination programs.
Information for Employers
Have you considered providing the influenza vaccination to your staff?
It has the following benefits:
- Protection for clients
- Protection for your staff
- Reduced absenteeism
Interested? Contact Melissa@panaceum.com.au
Influenza Services at the Panaceum Group
- Funded vaccinations for those eligible
- Private fee-paying vaccinations
- Nurse led flu clinics
- External flu clinics for companies and corporate organisations (for more information email Melissa@panaceum.com.au)
Please Contact us at Geraldton Medical Group on (08) 9920 8111 or University Medical Practice on (08) 9923 9999 to book your appointment or make enquiries.