The Facts about Flu

  • What Is Flu? (Influenza)

    Influenza is a lot more than a bad cold. It is a distinct illness caused by a virus and is very contagious. The influenza virus spreads through the air from a cough or a sneeze and you simply breathe it in. The person you catch it from may even seem well at the time. And you can pass it on before you realise you have influenza. So to protect yourself and others, be immunised every year well before the influenza season starts.

  • How Serious Is It?

    Influenza affects people differently but it should always be handled with care. The symptoms are like a severe cold with added muscle aches, fever and weakness. A normally strong and healthy adult or child will be over it in a week. But some people are prone to complications from influenza and then it can lead on to pneumonia, to hospitalisation and may threaten their life.

  • Am I in Danger if I Catch Flu?

    Talk to your doctor about the complications you could face from influenza. As a general rule, a flu shot every year is recommended to protect:

    • Anyone with diabetes, heart or lung conditions, kidney or liver disease.
    • Everyone with a weakened immune system.
    • All people working in nursing homes or with immuno-suppressed patients. This is to protect their patients.
    • All residents of nursing homes or hostels.

  • How Can I Protect Myself?

    A new vaccine is ready now to prevent the influenza viruses expected to cause illness this year. Even if you take medications for high blood pressure, diabetes or other conditions, the vaccine is very safe.

  • Can I Get Flu from The Vaccine?

    The vaccine is prepared to protect you and is a safe and effective vaccine. It cannot give you a "dose" of the flu because it contains no live organisms. A slightly sore arm or mild fever, tiredness or muscle aches could occur, but they soon pass.

    If you have an acute illness, delay being immunised. Also if you are allergic to eggs and egg products you need to discuss this with your doctor.

  • Should I Wait Until Winter?

    No, it is now time to see your doctor to ask for your yearly flu vaccine.

    Timing is important and the early months of autumn, between March and May are ideal. If you have missed that period, immunisation is still worthwhile as late as August. The vaccine takes effect in about two weeks and then protects you right through the influenza season.

  • Do I Need a Flu Shot Every Year?

    Yes. You need the flu vaccine yearly because it is adjusted each year to protect you from the current strains of influenza.

  • What Is Pneumococcal Pneumonia?

    Pneumonia is a lung infection and is one of the leading causes of death by infectious disease in Australia. One very serious type of pneumonia called pneumococcal pneumonia is caused by a bacterium that normally lives in the upper respiratory tract. It can flare up when the system is weakened by influenza but can follow other infections too and is recognised by coloured phlegm, chest pains and difficulty in breathing. Fortunately pneumococcal pneumonia can be prevented by immunisation.

  • Do I Need to Be Immunised?

    Anyone who is at greater risk from influenza also needs the protection of a pneumococcal pneumonia immunisation. It is recommended for:

    • Anyone with diabetes, heart or lung conditions, kidney or liver disease.
    • Everyone with a weakened immune system.
    • All residents of nursing homes or hostels.

  • When Is It Best Given?

    While pneumococcal pneumonia immunisation can be done at any time of year, it is good to be protected before winter starts. You can have your pneumococcal pneumonia immunisation at the same time as this year's flu shot and both are recommended. Ask your doctor about pneumococcal pneumonia immunisation when you go for your flu vaccine.

  • How Long Does It Last?

    The pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine stays the same and will protect you for at least 5 years. It is very effective. You cannot get pneumonia from the vaccine. Some people will have a mild reaction such as a sore arm or slight fever for a few days.

  • Any Other Questions?

    See your local doctor, pharmacy or health centre or Immunisation Unit Department of Human Services-telephone
    (03) 9637 4144