Queensland Health is warning about a huge increase in flu cases this year.
So far this year, there have been over 27 thousand flu cases reported in the state, three times more than the five-year average. There are thousands of new cases every week, with the worst of the flu season yet to come.
You’re more likely to get the flu in winter, but in tropical and subtropical areas like Queensland, it’s common all year round. Particularly from June to September, with a peak in August.
Most people get better within a week, but sometimes a cough and tiredness can last longer. A small number of people get pneumonia, inflammation of the heart muscle, or have neurological problems, and although it’s rare, some get encephalitis, life threatening brain inflammation.
It’s more common for children to get the flu, and more under five end up in hospital compared with other preventable diseases.
You’ll usually get symptoms one to three days after getting infected and symptoms may include fever, sore throat, dry cough, headaches, muscle or joint pain and tiredness or exhaustion. Children are more likely to have nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, while elderly people might not get a fever or have other common symptoms. They may instead be confused and have trouble breathing.
Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect you from serious disease caused by influenza.
If you’re eligible for free vaccine under the national immunisation program (NIP), your GP or other vaccination service provider can vaccinate you.
Vaccination is free through the NIP for:
- all children aged 6 months to less than five years;
- all people 65 and over;
- pregnant people (and at any stage of pregnancy);
- people who are medically at risk;
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples over six months of age.
You can get the flu and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time, but the flu vaccine doesn’t stop you getting COVID-19.
If you’re not eligible for Medicare, or don’t have a current card, discuss you situation with your GP or vaccination service provider.
Flu vaccination prevents illness in up to 6 in 10 healthy adults under the age of 65. Because the vaccine is not effective in absolutely every case, some people may still catch the virus after having the flu shot. However, vaccination against the flu both reduces your chances of getting it and the severity of the symptoms if you do.
Not only will getting vaccinated help you, it will also help the people around you. It’s particularly important to protect vulnerable people in the community who can’t be vaccinated, such as babies who are younger than 6 months and adults with low immunity.
So, what are you waiting for? Take the shot.