Not too late to get a flu jab
QUEENSLAND Health yesterday confirmed the flu season had officially begun with almost 130 cases reported across the state last week.
The number of cases per week has been rising since early May, and last week's figure was four times the average of 32 cases per week reported statewide in the first four months of the year.
Acting senior director communicable diseases branch Frank Beard said although the flu season was here, it was not too late to vaccinate against the condition.
"Vaccination is the best protection against this disease but as it takes up to two weeks to be fully effective, I urge people to visit their local GP or immunisation provider as soon as possible," he said.
Dr Beard said it was especially important for people at greater risk of severe influenza to be vaccinated.
This included pregnant women, people aged 65 and older, indigenous people aged 15 years and older, residents in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, homeless people and anyone six months of age or older with chronic medical conditions or impaired immunity.
The vaccine was available free to most people in those groups.
Queensland Health recommended people who might spread flu to people at high risk be vaccinated including staff in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, healthcare workers and those living with someone in a high-risk category.
Influenza was a highly contagious and potentially serious disease that could be spread through coughing and sneezing.
This year's vaccine was based on the virus strains that circulated in the past northern hemisphere winter - an influenza A H3N2 strain, an influenza A H1N1 strain and an influenza B strain.
"Not only does having the vaccination reduce the chances of catching flu but also the severity if you do contract it," Dr Beard said.
People could help by being conscientious about personal hygiene:
- Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly
- Don't share eating and drinking utensils or food and drinks
- If unwell, protect other people by covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, dispose of the tissue in a bin and wash hands
- Stay at least 1m away from people who are coughing and sneezing
- Regularly clean surfaces such as tables and benches.
- Symptoms include sudden fever, dry cough, muscle aches and pains, fatigue, headache, sore throat and a stuffy or runny nose
- This winter, more than 80,000 Australians will seek medical attention as a result of influenza