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Wednesday 31 May 2023
It’s that time of year again when the temperature begins to fall, and the number of influenza cases begin to rise. Now is the time to get your flu vaccine and fend off the dangers of this highly contagious virus.
At the peak of flu season in 2022, 77 people presented at the Austin Health's Emergency Department (ED) each week - 40 of which were children. This early in the 2023 season, ED is already treating 11 adults and 10 children every week.
Influenza poses a significant threat to both adults and children, and the potential complications can be severe for people of any age.
While many people dismiss influenza to just be a normal cold, the impact of this virus must be taken seriously – especially by those with weak or compromised immune systems. What can start as the flu can lead to pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, bronchitis, myocarditis, myositis and even neurological problems such as meningitis.
Our staff at the Austin Hospital see many of these patients every week – and many of them wish they had gotten their flu vaccine sooner.
Vaccination significantly reduces the risk of contracting the virus and minimises the chances of severe illness and complications. By getting vaccinated and encouraging our loved ones to do the same, we not only protect our own health but also contribute to the wellbeing of the wider community.
Yearly flu immunisation is recommended for everyone aged six months and over.
Visit the Better Health Channel to find out more information about the flu vaccine including eligibility for a free vaccine and locations where you can receive your vaccine.
If you or a loved one feel you need medical assistance with the flu there are a range of options nearby our hospital that you can utilise that are free and may have a shorter wait time.
The Banyule Respiratory Clinic is available for people that are unwell with mild respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, runny nose, and a sore throat.
The Heidelberg Priority Primary Care Centre (PPCC) is another option that provides care for people with conditions that require urgent attention but not an emergency response, including mild infections, fractures and burns. Priority Primary Car Centres are located across Melbourne so there may be one closer to your home than Austin Hospital.
Both the Banyule Respiratory Clinic and PPCC’s are free for everyone (babies, children and adults), with or without a Medicare card.
Even if you have had your vaccine, you can minimise your chances of catching the virus by:
Stay well this winter and book yourself and your family in for your influenza vaccine at your local pharmacy or general practitioner.