It can be hard to keep up with your immunisation, especially in your adult years. Mum won’t drag you to your appointment, you’ll have to make a voluntary trip this time – and aren’t immunisations expensive? Turns out they’re not.
You wouldn’t want to break your arm if you could help it, so why risk catching meningitis or pneumonia? These diseases can be prevented and there’s something that you can do about it. Under the National Immunisation Program (NIP), vaccinations against these diseases are available free of charge to those who qualify.
This doesn’t mean you’ll get a yearly package of vaccine and needles dropped at your door to top up your immunity. You’ll have to be a little more proactive. There’s heaps of information online about which immunisations you may qualify to receive. To find out more visit immunise.health.gov.au
Unlike the common cold, the flu virus can cause severe illness. Being able to identify symptoms and knowing where to find treatment can reduce the severity of the infection.
Symptoms can be very similar to the common cold, such as fatigue, headaches, coughing, sneezing and runny noses. However, the flu can include more serious symptoms as well such as high fever, chills and muscle aches. Severe cases can even develop longer-term health problems such as chest and sinus infections, bronchitis and pneumonia.
The flu virus is more prominent during the winter. The very young, elderly, and pregnant are more susceptible to infection and need to be especially careful in these months. Those with existing illness, Aboriginal or Torres Strait heritage or underlying medical conditions are also at increased risk.
The first step to prevention of the flu is hygiene – washing your hands is one of the most important preventative steps you can take against the flu as most cases are passed on through hand contact. Although washing your hands regularly can have a huge impact on the cases of infection, it isn’t a comprehensive defence against the flu virus. The best way to avoid infection is immunisation – the vaccines are updated regularly to protect against new viral strains each year. Immunisation readies your immune system for when it meets the flu virus, teaching your body how to recognise the virus and equipping it with the tools needed respond to the infection quickly. Your pharmacist will also be able to point you in the right direction for all your nasal decongestant, anti-fever and sore throat needs.
The flu virus regularly changes, so the immunisation which work against it need to be updated every year. The Flu vaccine is free* for the at-risk Australians mentioned above, under the National Immunisation Program.
*Conditions apply. Vaccination clinic opening hours may vary between stores.