It’s time to consider a flu vaccination: NPS MedicineWise

14 March 2014 

Although it is still early in the season, NPS MedicineWise is joining other health experts in recommending that people at risk of complications of the flu (influenza) get vaccinated against the illness.

NPS MedicineWise clinical adviser Dr Andrew Boyden says that having the flu vaccination is the best way to protect against the infection and its potential complications.

“We’re urging people who are most at risk to have the flu vaccination this autumn, because influenza can lead to serious complications, including pneumonia,” he says.

“Flu vaccines also change each year, so to ensure you are protected against the strains that are most  likely to cause infection this flu season it’s important to get vaccinated again in 2014.”

People at risk of the complications of the flu include those who are 65 years or older, pregnant women, Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders who are 15 years or older, and people who have certain medical conditions including heart disease,  diabetes and lung disease. 

Vaccination against the flu is also recommended for health workers and others who care for people at increased risk of complications of the flu.

“Protecting yourself from getting the flu will also protect others from being infected because the flu virus can spread very easily from one person to another.

“Good hygiene practices such as washing your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water can also reduce the risk of infection.”

Dr Boyden also clarified that the flu vaccine can be given to pregnant and breastfeeding women and that there are flu vaccines suitable for use in children.

“You should certainly speak to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns at all about influenza vaccination,” he said.

Some at risk groups are eligible for a free vaccination, so speak to a health professional to find out if you’re eligible. Anyone older than 6 months who is not eligible for a free flu vaccine can still get vaccinated at their own cost.

To read more about the influenza vaccine, including who is most at risk of flu, vaccine safety issues and potential side effects, visit www.nps.org.au/fluvaccine

For more information on prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines (herbal, ‘natural’, vitamins and minerals) from a health professional, call NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) . Hours of operation are Monday–Friday 9am–5pm AEST (excluding public holidays).

If you’re concerned that you or your child may have had side effects related to a vaccine, seek medical advice. To report and discuss possible side effects, call the Adverse Medicines Events (AME) Line on 1300 134 237 from anywhere in Australia (Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm AEST).

Media enquiries: Stephanie Childs on (02) 8217 8667, 0419 618 365 or schilds@nps.org.au 

ENDS

Independent, evidence-based and not-for-profit, NPS MedicineWise enables better decisions about medicines and medical tests. We are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.

Australian Prescriber is an independent peer-reviewed journal providing critical commentary on therapeutic topics for health professionals, particularly doctors in general practice. It is published every two months and distributed to health professionals free of charge, and is also available online at www.australianprescriber.com 

If you are a journalist seeking comment on a story or more information on any of our programs or campaigns please contact one of our media advisers: Stephanie Childs on 02 8217 8667 (during office hours) or call the NPS MedicineWise media phone on 0419 618 365 (for urgent media requests outside of office hours). If your enquiry is not urgent you can also send us an email.