Being a highly contagious disease, Influenza or “the flu” has been around for ages. Anyone can catch the flu and at times, it can be deadly…

Why are we expecting a big flu season in 2022?

Australia faced its worst flu season, with over 310,000 cases, back in 2019. Since then, lock downs, border closures and social distancing measures not only helped prevent the spread of COVID-19, but also resulted in historically low levels of flu, with just over 21,000 cases in 2020, and when last reported in November, less than 600 cases in 2021.

Now that Australians are moving around more freely following a high rate of COVID-19 vaccination, which does not protect against the flu, a resurgence of the flu is expected in 2022.

Quick refresher on what is the flu?

Flu is an easily contagious respiratory illness. It comes with different variants, known as type A, type B, and type C. In Australia, type A is the most commonly occurring influenza variant. 

There are new vaccines developed for type A and B influenza as they keep evolving. Winter is the peak infection period for influenza, however, you can catch flu at any time of the year. 

Seriously, why get a flu shot?

Since 2019, Australia’s worst flu season with 300,000+ cases saw a significant rise in people seeking medical care, putting a load on the healthcare system.

Flu vaccination has helped improve the stats by decreasing and controlling the number of infections. However, if proper measures are not taken, things can become worse again. Vaccination reduces the chances of catching flu, specifically for people with terminal illnesses or complex medical conditions. Influenza in people with weak immune systems or medical conditions can lead to more serious issues like pneumonia, which can prove fatal at times. 

Vaccinations saves lives, and can easily be booked online with Healthengine’s directory.

People with certain issues are at higher risk of getting more serious illnesses, like;

  • People aged 65 and older
  • Pregnant women
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • People with certain medical conditions, including:

      • Heart disease
      • Respiratory conditions such as severe asthma, cystic fibrosis and emphysema
      • Neurological conditions and central nervous system disorders such as epilepsy
      • Conditions that compromise the immune system, such as HIV
      • Diabetes and chronic metabolic disorders
      • Chronic renal failure
      • Blood disorders
      • Children on long-term aspirin therapy

Under the National Immunisation Program (NIP) schedule, people falling under such categories can get their flu vaccination for free. 

How does the flu vaccine work?

Flu vaccinations are designed to produce antibodies that help in fighting against infections. Flu vaccination covers 3 to 4 virus strains, each season. The vaccine offered by the National Immunisation Program contains the two strains of type A and B.

Flu vaccination is known to fight against illness in 6 out of 10 people falling under 65 years of age. The vaccines may not work effectively in all cases because of their variable natures. However, it potentially reduces the chances of getting ill.

Signs and symptoms of the flu

Influenza and common cold are similar when it comes to symptoms, let alone the symptoms of influenza are severe.

  • Runny nose
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches and pains
  • Fever and chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Headaches

COVID-19 and the flu

The spread of the Flu and COVID-19 is similar, but the viruses vary in nature. Both come with symptoms like coughing, sore throat, fatigue, runny nose and fever. Despite being similar when it comes to symptoms, COVID-19 can obviously cause a more severe illness in comparison to Flu. The symptoms for Flu appear in 1 to 4 days, whereas COVID-19 symptoms can take 2 to 14 days for the symptoms to appear, after exposure to the virus.

There are vaccinations available for influenza and COVID-19. The vaccination for COVID-19 or Flu is currently different and it is important to protect yourself from both. While most of the attention has largely been focused on COVID-19 in the recent past, Flu is still prevalent and can cause serious issues. So let’s take proper precautions.

Who should get the vaccine and why?

As per the experts, people over the age of 6 months should ideally get their annual vaccination for Flu. People belonging to certain groups are more prone to getting Flu in comparison to others. There are free vaccinations in Australia each year for such people, including;

Pregnant Women

A pregnant woman and the child, both can be at risk of getting infected and affected by Flu. On-time vaccination can help protect the baby and the mother from issues.

Older Adults

Flu can drastically affect older people as compared to young ones because of the weaker immune system. Experts recommend older people get a vaccination to protect themselves against Flu. 

Health Care Workers

Due to the nature of the work, there are more chances for the healthcare workers to get flu.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

Indigenous adults come with greater chances of getting flu in comparison to non-Indigenous adults, therefore, they are offered free vaccinations to prevent influenza.

Children Aged 6 Months to 5 Years

Being prolific spreaders, the ratio of kids getting flu and ending up in hospitals is greater than adults. Therefore, getting your child’s flu vaccination on time can be key for their health and to prevent the spread.

Those with Pre-Existing Illness or Conditions

People with certain medical issues like heart disease, asthma, HIV, or diabetes have relatively weaker immune systems. It is necessary for them to get their annual vaccination for Flu. 

Do I still need the flu vaccine after my COVID-19 shots?

The COVID-19 vaccine does not vaccinate against influenza, so a flu vaccine shot is still recommended, particularly with a resurgence of influenza expected as international borders open, and other public health and social measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are increasingly relaxed.

How can I book my flu vaccine online?

With the perpetuation of COVID-19, it’s important not to become complacent about the seriousness of influenza. 

You can book a consult through Healthengine’s directory to learn more about the Flu vaccine or to schedule your vaccination appointment. Click here to find appointments.

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