It is a good time to begin thinking about your flu vaccine!
Flu season 2018 is set to begin, and the world wide experience of flu season over the last year argues this is a very good year to consider getting yourself vaccinated.
The flu season in the US, a bell weather for the Australian experience, points toward a very busy season for the doctors, nurses, clinics and hospitals this year. The US reported over 34 million cases of confirmed influenza, with over 56, 000 deaths this season alone. Last year, Australia report over 3,000 deaths. The majority of those taken most severely ill were those over the age of 65.
Who should be immunised?
The Australian Department of Health recommends the flu vaccine, and it is free for everyone 65 years and older. In addition, the vaccine is free for all children ages 6 months to 5 years of age, and for all Aboriginal/Torres Straight Islanders over the age of 14.
All pregnant women, at any stage of their pregnancy, can have the vaccine free of charge, and are encouraged to get vaccinated.
Additionally, patients of any age with a history of heart disease, chronic respiratory conditions (such as emphysema, or severe asthma), or other chronic medical conditions such as diabetes (of any type) or chronic kidney disease can have a free flu vaccine. There are other chronic health problems that can also result in access to a free flu shot, so speak to your doctor or nurse if you have a question about this.
Almost everyone can have a flu shot, and for those not covered by the free vaccine, it is available on private script, generally costing less than $20. Ask your doctor if you are interested in getting a prescription.