The combination of COVID–19 and a severe flu season makes having a vaccination all the more important this year to help prevent against influenza and its complications.
Vaccination is a way to protect people from serious disease caused by influenza and getting vaccinated against the flu also helps protect other people, especially those who are too sick or too young to be vaccinated.
National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia Professor Trent Twomey warned against complacency about the flu.
“Last year influenza numbers were down, largely because of lockdowns and isolation,” Professor Twomey said.
“This year was anticipated to be a lot different and we are already seeing a resurgence of influenza infections.
“Many people fail to recognise how dangerous the flu is.
“However, getting vaccinated is the way to protect yourself and your community.”
Getting your flu shot at your community pharmacy is easy and convenient.
“You can be confident in your local community pharmacists’ skills and ability. Pharmacists can vaccinate people across a wide range of ages, from children to elderly adults. In some states pharmacists can vaccinate children from 5 years of age.” Professor Twomey said.
“Community pharmacists are among Australia’s most accessible healthcare professionals and so are very well–placed to administer flu shots.
“There is often no waiting time to receive a flu vaccine at pharmacy.
“In Australia, 95 per cent of capital city–based residents, and more than 72 per cent of those based in regional areas live within 2.5 kilometres of a pharmacy so they are really convenient and easy to get to for most people. “You can also book an appointment to receive a flu vaccination through findapharmacy.com.au.”
With the continuing COVID–19 pandemic, the need to be protected against the flu is more important than ever. And confusingly, the symptoms of the flu and COVID–19 can be similar.
The symptoms to watch out for are:
• loss or change in sense of smell or taste
• chills or sweats
• sore throat
• shortness of breath
• runny nose.
Some people may also experience headache, muscle soreness, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Symptoms of the flu can hit very quickly and may last several weeks.
A bout of the flu typically follows this pattern:
• Days 1–3: Sudden fever, headache, muscle pain and weakness, dry cough, sore throat and possibly a stuffy nose.
• Day 4: Fever and muscle aches decrease. Hoarse, dry or sore throat, cough and possible chest discomfort become more noticeable. Feeling of tiredness or being flat.
• Day 8: Symptoms decrease. Cough and tiredness may last one to two weeks or more.
Protection against the flu is of course better than the cure and in addition to getting vaccinated there are simple steps which everyone can take to help reduce the risk of getting or spreading the flu.
Cough or sneeze into your elbow
• Cough or sneeze into your elbow. It’s part of your body less likely to touch other surfaces and this helps to stop the spread of nasty germs. Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly
• Our hands are one of the top spreaders of viruses. Flu viruses can live on surfaces such as lift buttons or handrails for up to 48 hours and are spread when people touch an infected surface.
• Wash your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds – especially if you have been in a public place. Also wash thoroughly after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing or using the toilet. If using a hand sanitiser make sure it contains at least 60 per cent alcohol.
Rest and recover at home
• If you are sick, rest, drink plenty of fluids and avoid going out, Wear a mask if necessary.
• Your pharmacist can give you advice on managing common symptoms of influenza.
• If you experience more serious symptoms, seek medical attention.