Seasonal Influenza & Colds

Influenza

Usually called the flu, is caused by a virus and spreads from person to person through the air by coughing, sneezing or talking, and by touching a person’s hands, a surface or object.

How does it infect?

The flu virus infects your breathing through the nose, throat and sometimes your lungs. It differs from a cold as the symptoms such as fever, sore throat and muscle aches develop quickly and last about a week. You can have a very mild to a severe flu, and at times you can develop complications such as pneumonia and bronchitis which require a hospital visit. Sometimes these complications can lead to death.

If you have other medical conditions such as diabetes etc, it can make them worse. There is a need to get vaccinated every year because the viruses circulating in the community are always changing and immunity from the vaccine does not last a long time. It is especially important that people at risk get a flu shot each year.

4 Things You Might Not Know About Getting The Flu Shot

  1. There is no live virus in the flu shot.
  2. What’s in the vaccine changes every year.
  3. The flu shot is safe for pregnant women at all stages of their pregnancy.
  4. CSL Fluvax is not recommended for children under 5 years of age.

Who should get vaccinated?

The flu vaccine is recommended for anyone from 6 months of age who wants to be protected against the flu. Free flu vaccine is available for the following people:

  • Anyone aged 65 years and over
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from 15 years of age
  • Pregnant women
  • Anyone over 6 months of age with one or more of the following medical conditions:
    • heart disease
    • severe asthma
    • chronic lung condition
    • chronic illness requiring medical follow-up or hospitalisation in the past year
    • diseases of the nervous system
    • impaired immunity
    • diabetes
  • Children aged 6 months to 10 years who are on long-term aspirin therapy

 

Colds

The runny nose, headache, sore throat or “stuffy” feeling you get during a common cold is caused by one of many viruses – often a rhinovirus – and they can infect your nose, throat, sinuses and airways. The symptoms are usually a blocked or runny nose, sneezing, sore throat and a cough. You might also have a fever, mild aching muscles and general tiredness. These symptoms usually last for less than a week.

Steps to prevent the spread?

There are steps you can take when you have a cold or flu, to help prevent spreading illness:

  • Try to stay away from other people to prevent the virus from spreading
  • Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing and wash your hands
  • Throw away tissues as soon as you have used them and wash your hands
  • Stay home from work to prevent spreading it to others and keep children home from school

For more information visit Health Insite

Useful Links

TGA Vaccines Overview – what is a vaccine
When to get the flu vaccine
Anatomy of the flu – 3 types of flu virus
Immunise Australia