The 'flu vaccine' is now available.
St Kilda Medical Group recommends that the flu vaccine be considered for everyone over the age of 5 months.
The vaccine significantly reduces the risk of getting flu.
A flu illness is caused by one of several strains of the flu virus. Flu illness typically causes fever, sore throat, cough, lethargy, and aches and pains in muscles and joints. The duration of these symptoms is up to one week, and occasionally symptoms can be prolonged for up to two weeks. The symptoms can be severe and incapacitating, resulting in several days off work, school, or University.
The treatment for flu illness is to treat symptoms (eg paracetamol for aches and pains), to rest, and to take extra fluids (a total of at least 2.5-3 litres per day for adults). There is no evidence that any of the following are effective in the treatment of flu illness: antiviral medication, Vitamin C, echinacea, or zinc.
People who get flu illness can develop severe pneumonia. Pregnant women and people with diabetes are at increased risk of severe flu illness, and of flu illness complications (such as pneumonia).
A person who has flu illness can pass on the flu virus to another person by touch and by droplets (from sneezing and coughing).
To reduce the risk of transmitting flu infection, people who have flu should wash hands regularly, and should avoid coughing and sneezing in the direction of other people.
The flu vaccine
The vaccine is administered by injection into the muscle of the upper arm (or into the outer thigh muscle for infants).
The injection may cause a slight sting, but it's generally painless.
Most people who get the flu vaccine have no adverse effects. About 1 in 10 people will get some mild pain, tenderness, swelling and redness at the site of the injection - this can last for 1-2 days after the vaccination, and any pain can be relieved with paracetamol and with an icepack to the affected area (5-10 minutes every hour during the day, use a towel around the icepack).
About 1 in 20 people may feel unwell with mild fever and mild headache for 1-2 days after the vaccination - these symptoms can be relieved with paracetamol.
The flu vaccine cannot cause flu. The flu vaccine contains particles that resemble the four most common strains of flu virus. These particles are inactive - they cannot cause illness. The vaccine stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies that are specific against the flu virus, so that the immune system is primed for attack by the virus when someone is exposed to the virus. The virus is swamped by the antibodies, and the virus is wiped out so that it does not establish an infection.
The flu vaccine does not provide protection against the 'common cold' or against 'coughs and sniffles'. The flu vaccine needs to be administered once every year. For children under the age of 9 who are receiving flu vaccination for the first time, a second dose is administered four weeks after the first dose. This does not apply in subsequent years.
The flu vaccine is provided free of charge under the National Immunisation Program for the following people:
People aged 65 and over
Children aged 6 months to under 5 years
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
People with one or more of:
severe persistent asthma
severe heart disease
At St Kilda Medical Group, for people who are not entitled to a free flu vaccine, the cost for the flu vaccine is $15.
Flu vaccine consultation
The GP will check that you are fit to get the vaccine, explain the action of the vaccine, explain its potential adverse effects, and then administer the vaccine.
Everyone who gets vaccinated must wait in the waiting room for 15 minutes observation after getting the vaccine. This is to monitor for any very rare and serious adverse effects (such as anaphylaxis), which are straightforward to treat in the Clinic. Social distancing must be observed.