At-risk urged on flu vax
19 April 2012
Mum-to-be Kerin Bryant received the flu vaccine from Department of Health Immunisation Nurse Consultant Helen Pitcher.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Rosemary Lester has urged Victorians at risk of influenza to be immunised.
Those who are particularly at risk from flu include children with chronic medical conditions over six months, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged over 15 and everyone aged 65 and over.
“Influenza is caused by a highly-contagious virus that is spread by coughs and sneezes and every year it causes widespread illness in the community,” Dr Lester said.
“Under the National Immunisation Program, adults and children with chronic illnesses such as asthma, emphysema, lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, chronic liver and kidney disease, all residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities and people receiving immunosuppressive therapy – such as long-term steroids or cancer chemotherapy – should be immunised.
“The vaccine is free for these groups. The free immunisation is also available to pregnant women, over-65 Victorians and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 and over.
“The vaccine can be obtained by visiting your GP or other immunisation providers.
“The vaccine is safe and effective and is recommended for anyone aged six months and over who wants to reduce the risk of becoming ill from the flu this winter.”
The vaccine provides protection from about two weeks after the injection and lasts for about one year.
“Even if you were immunised last year, you still need to be protected this winter by having the vaccine again,” Dr Lester said.
Flu vaccination is one of the most effective actions in helping fight the spread of infection.
About 2,800 Australians die each year either directly from the seasonal flu, complications due to flu, or pneumonia.
As well as the National Immunisation Program, many companies and organisations, including the Department of Health, immunise their workers against influenza.
The Victorian Government also provides free influenza vaccine for direct care staff in public hospitals.
In 2011 there were 3,226 notifications of laboratory-confirmed influenza in Victoria compared to 2,051 cases in 2010.
To find out more about influenza immunisation, visit the Better Health Channel website.