Is it too late for a flu vaccine?

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Dr Caroline Chin MBBS DRANZCOG FRACGP advises this winter’s flu season is only just starting!

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Health professionals predict the greatest number of influenza cases will be in September or October this year so it is not too late to be protected! The maximum time of effect of the flu vaccine is 3 months and in fact its effectiveness is thought to wane at around 4 months so it is a perfect time to get your annual flu shot if you have yet to get around to it.

Floreat Medical supplies 3 types of influenza vaccine this year so make sure you get the vaccine appropriate to your needs. FluQuadri Junior is for children under 3 years old and Flu Quadri or Fluarix Tetra is available for those over 3. Dont forget that children under 9 require 2 doses of the vaccine one month apart for their first vaccination; after that flu vaccination is annual.

Fluzone High dose is available for those over 65 year old. The vaccine for the over 65s only covers 3 strains of the influenza virus instead of 4 but offers a stronger level of protection. The improved protection of this vaccine, particularly against influenza A(H3N2), is likely to outweigh any loss of protection against the alternative B strain not included in the trivalent vaccine Fluzone (TIV). However if TIV is unavailable, vaccination with a QIV is better than providing no vaccination. This has been a new development this year in an attempt to target the fact that 90% of influenza deaths occur in those over 65 years of age.

At Floreat Medical we offer vaccines at a nominal cost and all visits for influenza immunisation will be bulk billed. Some patients will be eligible for a government funded vaccination ie no cost. These include children between 6 months and 5 year old, anyone over 65, pregnant women, ATSI from 6 months, and anyone over 6 months who have a chronic condition (cardiac, respiratory or neurological disease, diabetes or other metabolic disease, rental or haematological disease or between 6 months and 10 years on long term aspirin).

Please be reassured the flu vaccination does NOT give you the flu! The vaccine contains no live virus. Fever and muscle aches can occur in 1-10% of people and represent an immune response that they are generating. It is self limiting and generally mild.

And why get your flu vaccine at a chemist rather than with Dr Caroline Chin or one of our other doctors? At Floreat Medical all of our staff are trained in resuscitation and first aid. We have nurses and doctors on hand to manage anaphylaxis or side effects. Although rare, after any immunisation it is prudent to monitor for acute adverse effects and this can only be done in a controlled medical environment.