It’s not possible to predict what this flu season will be like. Flu seasons are unpredictable in a number of ways. While flu spreads every year, the timing, severity, and length of the season varies from one year to another.
However in 2015 there were 90,000 reported flu cases, that ‘s 25,000 higher than the previous record, so we know that more people are getting the flu.
The Australian Government revises the composition of its influenza vaccinations available on the National Immunisation Program prior to every flu season, taking into account World Health Organisation recommendations.
There will also be two vaccines on offer this year – one for people aged three years and over and one that is specifically tailored for children under three.
Three things you might not know about the flu shot:
- There is no live virus in the flu shot.
- The composition of the vaccine changes every year.
- The flu shot is safe for pregnant women at all stages of their pregnancy.
Who is most at risk?
The flu virus is especially dangerous for the elderly, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and very young children, as well as for people with underlying medical conditions.
When should I have my flu injection?
You should ideally have your vaccination between March and May, before the onset of the flu season. Protection against the seasonal flu develops about two weeks after the injection and lasts for up to one year.
What is the difference between a bad cold and the flu?
The flu is more severe than a bad cold because:
- Cold symptoms last from two to a few days, whereas the flu can last up to a week or more.
- The flu causes a high fever, whereas a cold sometimes causes only a mild fever.
- Muscular pains and shivering attacks occur with the flu, but not with a cold.
- Colds cause a runny nose, while the flu usually starts with a dry sensation in the nose and throat.
- Flu symptoms come on quickly whereas colds develop more gradually.
Dr David Mullen
Lorne Medical Centre