Don’t let the flu land you in the ICU

Nearly one-in-ten Australian adults who are hospitalised with the flu, are admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU).

The 2019 flu season in Australia ramping up to be even worse than 2018, which saw an estimated 5,800 adults hospitalised with the flu. That’s why the Pharmacy Guild of Australia is urging everyone to protect against flu infection, by getting their annual flu vaccination now.

The flu is a highly contagious virus transmitted easily from person-to-person. It can be passed on via droplets produced when infected people cough or sneeze or come into direct contact with contaminated surfaces.

The flu is characterised by a sudden high fever, cough (usually dry), headache, muscle and joint pain, feeling unwell, and a sore throat.

Concerningly, there have already been more than 19,000 cases of flu reported around Australia this year.

It is a common myth that the flu only affects high-risk members of the community, such as those aged 65 and above, or those who are already ill. However, the fact is, the flu can strike anyone, even the young, fit and healthy. As a matter of fact, one in four people who are hospitalised with the flu have no underlying medical condition.

Therefore, the Australian Government recommends an annual flu shot for all Australians aged over six months, because vaccination is the best defence against flu infection.

Being vaccinated against the flu each year helps protect against the most commonly circulating viral strains, predicted for the annual flu season.

Vaccination reduces a person’s risk of flu-related illness between 40 and 60 per cent.

However, there is still a high level of complacency found within the Australian community, regarding annual flu vaccination. One in four Australian adults concerningly feel they do not need to get a flu shot, because they think they won’t be struck by the flu virus.

Yet, everybody who gets vaccinated, helps build ‘community immunity’ against the flu, whereby if enough people are vaccinated against the infection, they can help protect those who cannot be vaccinated, including the sick, or very young infants.  

Conveniently there are trained community pharmacists who are members of The Guild Pharmacy Australia, available in every state and territory in Australia, who can safely administer the flu vaccine at a pharmacy near you.

Choosing to get your flu shot from one of 5,700 Australian community pharmacies, is one of the most quick, convenient, and cost-effective ways to protect your and your family from flu this year.

At the Australian Pharmacy Professional Conference (APP 2019) held on the Gold Coast earlier this month, the Federal Health Minister praised the invaluable role played by pharmacists in “saving lives and protecting lives” through expanded community pharmacy vaccination services, citing 2017 saw 1,150 Australians tragically lose their lives to the flu. In 2018 however, this number dropped by 90 per cent, to just over 100 people.

The flu remains one of the world’s greatest vaccine-preventable public health challenges. Each year an estimated 1 billion flu cases occur, three-to-five million of which are considered severe. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends annual flu vaccination as the most effective way to prevent viral infection.  

Greater public awareness of the flu is needed within the community, and the risk-posed to all Australians, young and old, healthy or otherwise to help build community immunity. Your best shot at protecting yourself, your loved ones, and the community at large against flu, is a flu shot.

To learn more, and find a pharmacist near you, head to now

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