What is the flu?

Influenza is an infection of the respiratory tract caused by the Influenza strain of viruses. It is contagious and is spread between humans by droplets from the respiratory tract that may be spread by sneezing, coughing or close contact. Adults are most infectious in the first 3-5 days of their illness.

Why Does it Matter?

Most people will recover from the flu within a few days, although the symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle pain, headache and fatigue can be very unpleasant. However, for some people, getting influenza can result in complications that can result in hospitalisation and even death. This is more common in the elderly or in infants, or people with chronic medical conditions or problems with their immune system.

Can I Get a Free Flu Shot?

The government offers free flu shots for those who are most at risk of complications from influenza (eg elderly or those with chronic conditions), or for those who are at risk of passing on the disease to the vulnerable (eg healthcare workers and pregnant women). To see if you are eligible, have a look at the SA Health page here: http://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/public+content/sa+health+internet/health+topics/health+conditions+prevention+and+treatment/immunisation/immunisation+programs/annual+influenza+program/annual+influenza+program

If you are not eligible for a free vaccine, you can still get a prescription from your doctor for a flu vaccine for a small price!

How often should I get the vaccine?

It is recommended that you get a flu shot once a year. This is because the Influenza virus is very good at changing its appearance so it can escape the immune system. Because of this, scientists develop a new vaccine each year developed on the most common strains of the virus. The best time to get vaccinated is in the autumn months, as it is most common in winter and can take up to two weeks to work.

Are there any risks associated with the flu vaccine?

Usually the only side-effects of the flu vaccine are pain and redness at the injection site, and mild temperature, muscle aches and fatigue. These are usually minor and last a short time. Very rarely, you can get an allergic reaction to the vaccine, and because of this it is important to wait for 15 minutes at the doctor’s office after getting the vaccine.

Will it work?

It is important to remember that the vaccine is not 100% effective, and it is still possible to get some strains of the flu. However, the vaccine should make the symptoms more mild. There are also other common viruses that can cause flu-like symptoms which the vaccine does not protect against.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, feel free to book an appointment with one of our friendly doctors by booking online or contacting us by phone on 8269 6000.


SA Health, 2018, Flu vaccine frequently asked questions [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/public+content/sa+health+internet/health+topics/health+conditions+prevention+and+treatment/immunisation/vaccines/flu+vaccine/flu+vaccine+frequently+asked+questions. [Accessed 23 March 2018].

NSW Government, 2018, Influenza fact sheet – Fact sheets [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/influenza_factsheet.aspx. [Accessed 23 March 2018]

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