GML media release – 2014 Influenza Vaccination Reminder

For the full media release, click here

For immediate release                                                                    12.00pm Thursday 6 March 2014

GML reminds Gippslanders to prepare for Flu Vaccinations

With the end of the summer season, Gippsland Medicare Local (GML) is reminding families that it is time to plan for their annual influenza vaccinations.

GML Board Chair and Gippsland GP, Dr Nola Maxfield, said the annual program was very important to ensure the influenza risks to the Gippsland community were minimised.

“Influenza, or the ‘flu’ as it commonly known, is a highly contagious disease and is caused by a virus that can be spread through people coughing and sneezing as well as by touching infected surfaces,” Dr Maxfield said.

“It is different to a cold, and flu symptoms include fever, dry cough, muscle aches and pains, fatigue, headache, sore throat and a stuffy or runny nose.”

Dr Maxfield said the complications from influenza were quite serious and included bronchitis, croup, otitis media (or middle ear infections) through to pneumonia and cardiovascular complications.

Dr Maxfield reminded the community that free influenza vaccinations are now available from your GP for a range of high risk community groups only and available to the general public for a small fee with a GP script.

“We are particularly focused on all Australians aged 65 and over, all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who are aged 15 years or over and all pregnant women,” Dr Maxfield said.

“Vaccinations are also very important for all Australians aged six months and over with pre-existing medical conditions that can lead to severe influenza.”

For further information on influenza vaccinations, contact your General Practitioner (GP) or call GML on 5126 2899 for your nearest GP.  You can also visit the GML website at : https://www.gphn.org.au/community-information/immunisation/

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Influenza Fast Facts

  • Over 18,000 hospitalisations each year are attributed to influenza
  • Influenza is causes more deaths than accidents on roads in Australia between 1500 and 3500 annually
  • Pregnant women are at high risk of severe consequences of influenza infection. The influenza vaccine is safe for pregnant women and provides protection for themselves and their new born baby for the first six months after birth
  • Children and adults with egg allergy, including anaphylaxis, can be safely vaccinated with influenza
  • vaccines need to be given each year, because the influenza viruses are always changing
  • People over 65 years are at high risk from influenza and its complications
  • Influenza vaccine does not contain any live viruses and therefore cannot cause the illness
  • Anyone can contract influenza and being fit and healthy does not protect against infection

Free influenza vaccine is available for:

·         all Australians aged 65 and over

·         Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who are aged 15 years or over

·         all pregnant women

·         all Australians aged 6 months of age and over with medical conditions that can lead to severe influenza

Influenza vaccinations are available for small fee for:

·         general public (via GP script)

References

The Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th edition http://www.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/handbook10-4-7

Immunise Australia Program http://www.immunise.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/immunise-influenza

Influenza Specialist Group http://www.isg.org.au/index.php/

Influenza Fact Sheet National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) http://www.ncirs.edu.au/immunisation/fact-sheets/influenza-fact-sheet.pdf

Flu fact sheet for media Influenza Specialist Group (ISG)  http://www.isg.org.au/index.php/media/

Decision Aid http://www.isg.org.au/index.php/publications-/