Is it Worth Getting the Flu Shot this Year?
Yes, every year.
Influenza is a serious viral illness, we’re not just talking about the common cold. Take it from me, you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck, the worst cold you’ve ever had, it’s difficult to get our of bed and often it will mean 2-3 weeks off work. Common symptoms are high fever, muscle aches, headache and lethargy. There are many deaths from influenza every year, mostly in the elderly and those with chronic illnesses but even in some healthy young adults. There is little downside to vaccination.
What Does the Flu Vaccination Entail?
The vaccination consists of inactivated influenza virus. It primes your immune system so that if someone with influenza coughs or sneezes on you, your body can mount a response much more quickly which either stops you from becoming ill at all or you become much less sick than you otherwise would have. The side effects are related to you immune system doing what it should and detecting the injected foreign matter. Side effects are usually mild like soreness or redness around the injection site, much less frequently you can feel a bit tired or suffer a low fever. The vaccination is usually safe for anyone over 6-months of age unless you have previously suffered life-threatening allergy (anaphylaxis) to the influenza vaccine, which is very rare. Persons with egg allergy or those who have had Guillain-Barré syndrome should discuss with their GP. Kids under 3-years should only have certain brands of influenza vaccine, which your GP should be aware of. Kids under 9-years need two-shots but only the first time they ever have it.
Influenza vaccination has no effect on contracting the common cold.
Why Do I Need to Get the Flu Shot Each Year?
Viruses are ‘clever’ in that they change frequently which is why you have to have the vaccine every year. The strains of virus included in the vaccine are based on the strains that most commonly caused illness in the opposite hemisphere of the world during their flu season. Since 2016 most vaccines protect against 4 strains of the influenza virus(ie ‘quadrivalent’).
How Much Does it Cost?
The government funds free vaccination for people most at risk such those with diabetes, heart, lung, kidney, blood or immune disorders, anyone aged 65-years or over, all pregnant women and some Aboriginal/ TI people.
Those working in contact with the community such as teachers, the retail industry, all essential service and health providers and those who travel are also at greater risk (but not funded by the government).
Why Should I Get Vaccinated?
The more people are vaccinated the better our ‘herd immunity’ is as a population and the less severe the flu season becomes. I strongly recommend everyone consider vaccination this & every year.