What is influenza?
Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause widespread illness and deaths every year.
Influenza viruses usually spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. People may spread the virus before they know they are infected.
This year we are all more vulnerable to influenza due to recent exposure to the virus and lower uptake of influenza vaccines. With international borders reopening, it’s likely we will see more influenza in 2022.
Symptoms of influenza infection usually come on suddenly and may include: – fever (high temperature) – cough – muscle or body aches – fatigue (tiredness) – headaches – sore throat – runny or stuffy nose. Influenza infection is more serious in pregnant women, babies, older people, and people with chronic health conditions such as heart, lung or kidney diseases, or weakened immune systems. However, even fit and healthy people, especially children, can get very sick from influenza. Influenza can cause a serious infection in the lungs and can make chronic health conditions worse.
The influenza vaccine
Vaccination is our best defence against influenza viruses. Even fit and healthy people should get the influenza vaccine to protect themselves and help to stop the spread of influenza. Influenza vaccination prepares your immune system to fight influenza viruses. The influenza vaccine uses parts of killed viruses to create an immune response following vaccination. The influenza vaccine cannot give you influenza because it does not contain any live viruses. The immunity provided by the vaccine can protect you from becoming sick if you get exposed to influenza in the community. This immunity can also reduce the severity of illness if you do get sick.
Who should receive the influenza vaccine?
Everyone six months and older is recommended to get an influenza vaccine each year. Some people in our community are more vulnerable to the influenza virus and can suffer more serious complications from influenza. These people are eligible for free influenza vaccination through the National Immunisation Program: – People aged 65 years and over.
Common side effects from the influenza vaccine include mild pain, redness or swelling where the vaccine is given. These side effects usually last for a few days and go away without any treatment. Any medicine, including influenza vaccines, can have potentially serious side effects, such as a severe allergic reaction. However, these reactions are extremely rare.
We highly recommend that you have the flu vaccine.