It’s time to get the flu vaccine

Canberrans are being urged to get vaccinated against influenza ahead of the flu season. The annual vaccination is the most effective way to protect against the flu.

Joy Burch MLA, representing the ACT Minister for Health and Wellbeing, received the vaccination at the Conder Medical and Dental Centre to help raise awareness of the importance of the vaccine to keep Canberrans healthy and well this winter.

“Flu can have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable people in our community and it can lead to serious complications and even death,” Ms Burch said.

“Young children, the elderly, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people with certain chronic medical conditions are eligible for a free government-funded vaccine

“We know that life can get busy and finding time to book an appointment is challenging. But think about the time out and the interruption to your everyday life if you do get the flu when you’re not vaccinated,” Ms Burch said.

ACT Health Directorate’s Public Health Specialist Dr Vanessa Johnston said that now is the best time to get the flu vaccination before the start of the winter influenza season.

“So far this year (2019), there have been 237 cases of influenza notified in the ACT. For the same period last year (2018) between January and April, the ACT only had 118 notified cases of influenza.

“Although there has been an increase in influenza over the summer of 2019 compared to last year, current influenza activity in the ACT remains low and stable,” Dr Johnston said.

“However, each year the flu season varies in severity and the circulating strains, so the best way to keep those numbers down as the influenza season approaches is by getting this year’s (2019) flu vaccine now,” Dr Johnston said.

Further, Dr Nathem Al-Naser from the Conder Medical and Dental Practice reminds Canberrans that the virus in the flu vaccine will never give you flu because it does not contain any live virus.

“Everyone is at potential risk and having the flu vaccine every year is the best way to protect yourself and others. I encourage everyone over the age of six months to roll their sleeves up and get vaccinated,” Dr Al-Naser said.

In addition to the key role that GPs play in vaccinating older Canberrans against the flu, this year (2019) ACT Health is expanding the influenza immunisation program for this vulnerable age group to other primary care providers.

Some pharmacies in the ACT will be participating in a pilot project to deliver the free flu vaccine to people 65 years and older. This same age group can also access a free vaccine if they are already attending a Walk-in Centre for medical care.

“We are urging all Canberrans to call their GP, an ACT Government Early Childhood Immunisation Clinic or visit a local pharmacy to make an appointment today,” Dr Johnston said.

Visit ACT Health’s website for more information on immunisation.

Source: ACT Government