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Expert attacked for encouraging vulnerable Aussies to get vaccinated

Should you get the flu vaccine this year?

<p>In Queensland, almost 7200 Australians have already reported being infected with influenza since January 2024. [Source: Shutterstock]</p>

In Queensland, almost 7200 Australians have already reported being infected with influenza since January 2024. [Source: Shutterstock]

Key points

  • Over half of Australians admitted to hospital for influenza and related complications are over the age of 65 years
  • Australians over the age of 65 are eligible to receive a free influenza vaccination
  • Instead of spending your time sick in bed, you could be doing things you enjoy

As we are well into autumn, being aware that the flu season is now upon us and taking relevant precautions can help reduce your risk of infection. 

Recent statistics from Queensland Health highlight that 7,190 cases of influenza have been reported in the state since the beginning of the year. 

Over half of the Australians who have already been hospitalised for influenza and associated complications are 65 years or older, with the importance being highlighted by health professionals.

Professor Steve Robson, the President of the Australian Medical Association, was interviewed on April 2, 2024, to discuss the importance of vulnerable Australians getting vaccinated. However, when talking on ABC Radio Melbourne, Professor Robson discussed how his medical advice has angered some people. 

“I think we’re seeing around the world a large amount of mis- and disinformation about vaccination. It had always been around, but I think during the pandemic, it has absolutely reached a crescendo. I’ve personally been attacked. I ended up in police protection at one stage after threats from anti-vax activists,” said Professor Robson.

Despite having been threatened by anti-vaxers, Professor Robson wants Australians to understand the importance of vaccinations.

[…] the overwhelming body of evidence says that vaccination is one of the most effective and also cost-effective things that the community can do to protect themselves and in particular, protect really vulnerable Australians, often those who are not visible to the broader community,” said Professor Robson. 

Symptoms of flu can include feeling achy, being fatigued, coughing, having a sore throat and headaches. While COVID-19 and the flu are both contagious respiratory illnesses, each is caused by different viruses. While the symptoms may appear similar, getting a COVID test can determine if you have COVID-19 or the flu. 

For most healthy people, recovering from the flu can take up to 10 days without treatment. 

However, for people at greater risk of influenza infection, which includes people 65 years and older, complications can include pneumonia, bronchitis, heart problems, ear infections and increased asthma symptoms. 

If you’re 65 years or older, you’re eligible to receive the free influenza vaccination as part of the National Immunisation Program

Even if you got the flu vaccine last year, it’s important to get the most recently released vaccine because flu viruses continue to change.

During the COVID pandemic, many people wore masks and took extra precautions to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. While it was determined by the World Health Organization last year that COVID-19 ‘no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern’, the transmission of the virus is still occurring and is still considered to be a pandemic. 

To reduce your risk of the common flu and COVID-19, ways to protect yourself include:

  • avoiding close contact with others;
  • cleaning your hands frequently with hand sanitiser;
  • getting fresh air and meeting with others outside;
  • maintain healthy habits such as eating well and getting enough rest.

If you are looking to also get protection against COVID-19, you can have both your flu shot and COVID-19 booster on the same day, if required. 

While standard influenza vaccines are available to protect people against the flu, Australians over the age of 65 may benefit from getting the enhanced influenza vaccine called Fluad Quad. This enhanced vaccine is not recommended for people younger than 65 years of age and age-appropriate vaccines should be used instead. 

While side effects of influenza vaccines can include muscle aches and tiredness, evidence suggests that getting the flu vaccine is beneficial. People who have received the most recent flu vaccination are up to 60 percent less likely to need to visit their doctor with flu-related concerns. 

Instead of spending time in bed feeling ill or having to visit your doctor, doing things you enjoy is a much better use of your time. 

Creating art and engaging with others has more benefits than simply creating a vibrant and engaging space in your own home. 

Researchers highlight the value of group art therapy with older people in aged care homes, as participants in one study were found to have reduced depressive symptoms, a greater sense of purpose as well as improved mental cognition.

Additionally, by ensuring you reduce your risk of becoming infected with the flu this year, keeping yourself healthy means you will be more able to receive guests and spend your time engaging in conversation, rather than feeling ill in bed.

What measures will you take to reduce the likelihood of getting the flu this season?

 Let the team at Talking Aged Care know on social media. 

For more information and news in the aged care industry, subscribe to our free newsletter. 

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