You never forget the flu

How do I get my flu shot?
Visit a friendly UFS pharmacist to receive your flu vaccine and protect yourself against the flu this winter!  No appointment necessary!  Our highly trained pharmacists can vaccinate anyone over the age of 16 years in store, no prescription required! For adolescents and children under the age of 16, the flu vaccine is available on prescription from a GP.

 

Influenza is a highly contagious viral illness caused by the influenza viruses. It causes a range of symptoms, some of which are shared and often confused with the ‘common cold’ virus. In comparison to a common cold, the flu has a more sudden onset and is accompanied by severe symptoms. These often include:

  • Sudden appearance of a high fever (over 38°C) and chills
  • Muscle and body aches
  • Headache
  • Chest discomfort
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • A dry cough and or sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose.

Every year, the flu causes widespread illness and serious health complications worldwide, especially in high risk groups such as:

  • People over 65
  • Young children aged up to 5 years
  • Pregnant women
  • People with chronic medical conditions
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

How is the flu spread?

The flu spreads through tiny droplets in the air-made when people cough, sneeze or talk. The virus can also be spread by touching surfaces or objects where infected droplets have landed.

How long will I be contagious? 

It is possible to pass on the flu virus before you even know you’re sick! Infected people can be contagious from 1 day before symptoms develop to 5-7 days after becoming unwell. People with the flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days of the illness.

What to do if you have the flu?

  • Rest! The flu can make you feel very weak and tired until your temperature returns to normal. Resting and getting sleep will allow your body to use its energy to fight the infection.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Extra fluids are required to replace those lost due to fever and sweating. As well as plenty of water, an oral rehydration solution such as Hydrolyte can help replenish lost electrolytes.
  • Check with your pharmacist what over the counter products are safe and effective for you. These may include pain relieving medications, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, cough medicine, decongestants and nasal sprays.
  • Most people who are otherwise generally healthy won’t need to see a doctor. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms, immediate medical attention is required:
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Chest pain
    • Sudden dizziness
    • Confusion
    • Severe vomiting
    • Fever associated with a rash
  • Anyone who falls into a ‘high risk group’ should see their doctor as soon as possible.
  • It is important to note that antibiotics are not affective against the flu as it is a viral infection. Antibiotics are only effective against bacteria. Although not prescribed for the flu, a doctor may prescribe an antibiotic for a secondary bacterial infection.
  • Stay at home if you are unwell. In particular, avoid going to work or school or visiting nursing homes, hospitals and any busy public places. It is best to stay at home for at least 24 hours after your fever has gone.

How to avoid catching the flu? 

The first and most important step to avoiding the flu is to be vaccinated! As the influenza virus mutates and changes from year to year, it is important to be vaccinated before every upcoming flu season begins. Although the flu shot is not 100% effective, it protects against the 4 most common influenza virus strains that extensive research suggests will be the most common. The flu vaccination is recommended for everyone over the age of 6 months. It is especially important for those in the previously listed high risk groups. Infants younger than 6 months are too young to be vaccinated, but research shows that vaccination of the mother during pregnancy can protect the baby for several months after birth.