FLU SHOT

FLU SHOT

Who should get a flu shot

Everyone aged over 6 months old, provided you have had no severe complications from the flu vaccine in the past.  Speak to your TerryWhite Chemmart pharmacist if you’re not sure.  And remember, even for healthy people, the flu can cause severe illness and in some cases be fatal, so a flu vaccination is your best line of defence.

When should I get a flu shot

The recommended time to get a flu shot in Australia is April or May each year.

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Flu shot faqs

What will happen during my flu vaccination appointment?

During your appointment, a trained pharmacist or nurse provider will administer a flu vaccination. No prior prescription will be required, and appointments take only minutes.

You will be asked to complete a consent form and you may be asked some questions about your existing health and any previous reactions you may have had.

What can I expect after having the flu vaccination?

  • You may feel sore, hot, itchy or red around the area where you have been injected.
  • A small lump or bruise may develop at the injection site. This can last up to 14 days.
  • Occasional side effects may include flu-like symptoms, soreness of joints, muscle tenderness and general weakness.
  • You should contact a doctor if you feel unwell, itchy all over, faint or short of breath after your vaccination.

Is the flu vaccination worth it?

Absolutely! Getting a flu vaccination is the best way you can avoid getting sick from it.

Why do I need to get vaccinated against the flu every year?

There are two main reasons for getting the flu vaccination annually:

  1. As the virus is constantly changing, getting vaccinated from the flu every year means you’re best protected against the most recent and common circulating strains.
  2. A person’s immune protection from influenza vaccination declines over time and annual vaccination is recommended.

Is the flu vaccination safe?

Yes. All flu vaccines currently available in Australia are safe to use in adults. In Australia, the flu vaccine (and all other vaccines, in fact) must pass stringent safety testing before being approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

When is the best time to get vaccinated?

Vaccination is best undertaken in autumn (March – May) in anticipation of Australia’s peak flu season which usually occurs between June and September.

Are there possible side effects of the flu vaccination?

Although there is strict testing in place for flu vaccinations in Australia, they may cause one or more side effects. These can include:

  • Aches in muscles
  • Temperature change
  • Pain or swelling where the injection was given
  • A small, hard lump where the injection was given (can last 1-2 weeks)
  • Drowsiness

If you’re concerned about the persistence or severity of the side effects that you or your loved one is experiencing, please either see your GP or visit your nearest hospital immediately.

Three Things You Might Not Know About The Flu Vaccination:

  1. There is no live virus in the flu vaccine, so you cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine
  2. The composition of the vaccine changes every year to combat the constantly-mutating flu virus. This year we are offering the quadrivalent vaccine, which protects against four of the most common strains.
  3. The flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women at all stages of their pregnancy

Are there side effects

Common side effects of the vaccination itself include redness and some pain at the site of injection.  This usually only lasts 24-48 hours and if it persists, ice packs or mild pain relievers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can assist.

In addition, you may experience some flu-like illness such as feeling tired, a mild headache or mild fever after the vaccine.  This does not mean the vaccine gave you the flu; it is caused by the immune response to the dead virus in the vaccine.

What are the different types of vaccines?

People may hear reference to multiple types of vaccines.  The standard vaccine for most people for the 2019 season is a quadrivalent type however there are other types available and they are specifically provided for those aged over-65.  The different vaccines for over-65s are manufactured in such a way as to address the particular types of vaccines prevalent in the over-65 population and therefore provide better and increased protection.

If you are over-65 please speak to your GP or TerryWhite Chemmart pharmacist about which flu vaccination is best for you.

FLU FACTS

FLU FACTS

Facts About Influenza

Commonly known as ‘the flu’, influenza is a highly contagious disease that can be serious, debilitating and affect the whole body. The flu is caused by a particular group of RNA viruses (Orthomyxoviridae) and is spread by infected people coughing or sneezing as well as from surfaces contaminated by respiratory secretions. So it’s easy to catch and spread and hard to avoid.

Influenza, or ‘the flu’ is an ever mutating bug that can leave you feeling like you’ve just been run over by a bus.  Don’t get it confused with the common cold, which is much less severe – when you have the flu you will know it. Seasonal influenza can be fatal to people in high risk groups. Influenza is a potentially fatal disease estimated to cause more deaths than road accidents every year: between 1500 and 3500 influenza deaths annually. Experts estimate that influenza in Australia causes more than 18,000 hospitalisations and 300,000 GP consultations per year. Between 5% and 20% of the Australian population may be infected with influenza each year. Children are much more likely to contract influenza in any given season: 20-50% compared with 10-30% in adults. Up to 70% of children become infected with the influenza virus during a pandemic. (A pandemic is the spread of an infectious disease – like the influenza RNA virus – over a large geographical area. With influenza though, it refers to worldwide spread of an influenza virus that has not previously been seen in humans).

Influenza is extremely contagious Studies have shown that influenza can survive for: An hour or more in the air in enclosed environments

  • More than 8 hours on hard surfaces such as stainless steel and plastic
  • Up to 15 minutes if transferred from tissues to hands
  • Up to 5 minutes after transfer from the environmental surfaces
  • One of the hardest things about stopping the spread of the flu is that people can be contagious a day before experiencing any symptoms.  Of course this means we are out and about and unfortunately spreading the virus before anyone knows they are unwell.

People at high risk of complications from influenza

People with underlying medical conditions:

  • Heart conditions
  • Severe asthma
  • COPD and other lung conditions
  • Diabetes (type 1 and type 2)
  • Kidney problems
  • Impaired immunity such as HIV infection
  • Malignant cancers
  • Chronic neurological disorders
  • Pregnant women
  • People over 65 years of age
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island adults aged over 15 years
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, and  are also at increased risk of severe complications from influenza.
  • Everybody should be protected by flu vaccination
  • Pretty much everyone can benefit from the flu vaccine.  Remember, even if you’re fit and healthy you could pass the virus onto someone who is at risk of becoming very sick if they catch the flu.
  • If you care for children, older parents or any other at risk person then a flu shot is highly recommended.
TIPS FOR PREVENTING COLD & FLU

TIPS FOR PREVENTING COLD & FLU

Ways to prevent the Flu

Getting the flu vaccination and good hygiene practice is your best defence against getting the flu.

Below are some important techniques that may help you reduce the risk of getting a cold or flu:

  1. Get the flu vaccination.
  2. Hand Hygiene: Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of microbes on them in most situations. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.
  3. Sanitise: The flu virus can live on hard surfaces for more than 8 hours. Regularly wipe down and sanitise:  Phone handsets, Desks, Bench tops, Door knobs, Toilet seats, Any hard surfaces to avoid coming into contact with the virus.
  4. Protect: If you have the flu and you are a parent who is caring for a child, wear a surgical mask where possible to prevent passing on the virus to the child or other people in your household.
  5. Dispose of any used tissues immediately and avoid using handkerchiefs.
  6. Keep a pocket sized hand sanitiser in your bag when you are at work or school and use on a regular basis, particularly after touching hard surfaces in public areas.
  7. Educate children on good hygiene practice to reduce the spread of germs.

Looking After Your Immunity During Winter

A holistic approach for maintaining a healthy immune system can include a supportive diet and lifestyle and taking evidence-based supplements

Some well-known supplements that have good evidence supporting their role in supporting the immune system include zinc, vitamin C & vitamin D. Zinc deficiency has been linked to decreased immune function so it’s important that adequate zinc levels are maintained especially in winter. Vitamin C taken prophylactically can help to support a more efficient immune response with numerous studies supporting the use of vitamin C in reducing the severity and duration of colds. Vitamin D plays an important role in enhancing the body’s immune response to bacteria and infections and being deficient in Vitamin D has been linked to recurrent infections.

Vitamin C is available as a standard or sustained release tablet, a chewable tablet, in powder form, as an effervescent tablet that dissolves in water and a spray and each supplement may contain different amounts of vitamin C. Ask your pharmacist for advise on the most appropriate type of vitamin C for you.

Immunity: Diet & Lifestyle

Most people understand that a healthy diet leads to a healthy immune system but when we get busy or tired, convenience often takes precedence over preparation of healthy meals and we tend to consume more discretional or treat foods that may not meet our daily nutritional requirements.

In terms of specific foods to support a healthy immune system, the number one recommendation would be to ensure that you’re eating a great variety of fruits and vegetables, a minimum of 2 and 5 serves a day respectively, especially red and green coloured foods. You should aim for a rainbow on your plate daily. Colourful fruit & vegetables contain a vast array of protective nutrients that support our immune system. But specific fruit & vegetables that can help include:

  1. Foods rich in vitamin C: Oranges, Red capsicums, Tomatoes, strawberries, Leafy greens like spinach and kale, Broccoli
  2. Foods rich in zinc: Meat, poultry & seafood, Yoghurt, Nuts & seeds, Wholegrains
  3. Other beneficial foods: Yoghurt – Not only another good source of zinc but also a great source of probiotics (we’re talking plain/natural yoghurt here not the fruit/honey/sugar sweetened varieties). Ginger – Anti-microbial Garlic (raw) – Anti-bacterial Essentially you want to limit or avoid commercially processed foods and try to incorporate as many whole foods into your diet as you can. For fussy children, you can look at adding a lot of these nutrients into great tasting smoothies, ice-blocks in summer or added to their water for school.
MANAGING SYMPTOMS OF COLDS AND FLU

MANAGING SYMPTOMS OF COLDS AND FLU

If you are unlucky enough to get sick this winter, the most important thing you can do is rest, drink plenty of fluids and try to eat well while you’re unwell. To help manage your symptoms, there are a wide range of products and medicines that your TWCM pharmacist can help you with – even if you’ve taken these medicines before it’s always a good idea to check with the pharmacist that they are safe for you to use.

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Pain Relief

To relieve body aches and discomfort, pain relief medications like paracetamol and ibuprofen are often recommended. These medications are available over-the-counter, but it’s best to talk to your TWCM pharmacist to ensure they are right for you. For children, it’s important to ensure you give the right dose based on their age and weight – again, your TWCM pharmacist can help you with this.

Nasal congestion

Having a blocked nose due to cold or flu, is a common and frustrating symptom many people experience. Nasal sprays can assist and there are a wide variety available ranging from a simple saline spray to those containing active ingredients such as phenylephrine, oxymetazoline or xylometazoline.

Sore throat

Sore throat is another common symptom of colds and flu. Your TWCM pharmacist can recommend a range of solutions to relieve this discomfort which may include pain relief medicines, throat lozenges or throat sprays.

Combination cold and flu medications

These are used to manage a range of symptoms including headaches, fever, aches & pains, blocked or runny nose, sore throat or chesty cough. It’s important to take care when taking these medications that you don’t double up doses of other medication you might be taking – for example combination cold and flu medicines often contain paracetamol. Check with your TWCM pharmacist is you’re unsure.

Anti-viral medicines

If you are diagnosed with the flu, your doctor may prescribe you antiviral medication that may assist with reducing the severity of your symptoms or length of illness if taken within the first 48 hours. To be effective, anti-viral medication must be taken in the first 48 hours that you are unwell.

Antibiotics

Sometimes people enquire about taking antibiotics to treat the flu or ask their doctor to prescribe them. Antibiotics are not effective in treating colds and flu – this is because they are caused by a virus, but antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them puts you and your family at risk of getting infections that may not be easily treated.

FLU SHOT FAQs

FLU SHOT FAQs

What will happen during my flu vaccination appointment?

During your appointment, a trained pharmacist or nurse provider will administer a flu vaccination. No prior prescription will be required, and appointments take only minutes.

You will be asked to complete a consent form and you may be asked some questions about your existing health and any previous reactions you may have had.

How long will it take?

Please arrive 5 minutes prior to your appointment and be aware you will need to remain in store for a further 15 minute observation period in the unlikely event of an adverse reaction.

Please note: Age restrictions apply and vary according to state – please confirm with your local store the minimum age we can vaccinate.

What can I expect after having the flu vaccination?

  • You may feel sore, hot, itchy or red around the area where you have been injected.
  • A small lump or bruise may develop at the injection site. This can last up to 14 days.
  • Occasional side effects may include flu-like symptoms, soreness of joints, muscle tenderness and general weakness.
  • You should contact a doctor if you feel unwell, itchy all over, faint or short of breath after your vaccination.

What is the flu?

Influenza is a viral infection, caused by influenza virus types A, B or C. The virus is transmitted by virus-containing aerosols produced by coughing, sneezing or by direct contact with respiratory secretions.

Immunisations should especially be considered for those in more high-risk groups.

Am I in a high-risk category to get the flu?

High-risk categories for the flu include:

  • Young children
  • The older demographic due to generally weaker immune systems
  • Women who are pregnant
  • People who have chronic medical conditions (asthma, heart disease, and more)

Additionally, if you work closely with anyone in the above high-risk categories, it is strongly recommended you get vaccinated as well.

Is the flu vaccination worth it?

Absolutely! Getting a flu vaccination is the best way you can avoid getting sick from it.

Why do I need to get vaccinated against the flu every year?

There are two main reasons for getting the flu vaccination annually:

  1. As the virus is constantly changing, getting vaccinated from the flu every year means you’re best protected against the most recent and common circulating strains.
  2. A person’s immune protection from influenza vaccination declines over time and annual vaccination is recommended.

What’s the difference between Trivalent and Quadrivalent vaccines?

Trivalent vaccines include two A strains and one B strain. Quadrivalent vaccines include two A strains and two B strains, providing you with the best protection against the flu this winter.

Who should have the flu vaccination?

Almost everyone can benefit from having the flu vaccination. Even if you’re fit and healthy you could pass the virus on to someone who is at risk of becoming very sick if they catch the flu. If you care for children, older parents, or any other high-risk person, then you should consider getting the flu vaccination

Who shouldn’t have the flu vaccination?

Children younger than 6 months of age, people with severe or life-threatening allergies to the flu vaccine or ingredients in the flu vaccine including gelatin, antibiotics or egg.

Can you get influenza from a flu vaccine?

Influenza vaccines will not give you the flu as the vaccines available in Australia do not contain the ‘live’ virus. After vaccination, the person will develop antibody levels that are likely to protect them

against the strains of virus represented in the vaccine.

As the influenza virus is ever mutating and changing, in some cases the influenza vaccination may not prevent a person contracting the virus. However, it can help to reduce the severity and/or duration of the virus.

Are there possible side effects of the flu vaccination?

Although there is strict testing in place for flu vaccinations in Australia, they may cause one or more side effects. These can include:

  • Aches in muscles
  • Temperature change
  • Pain or swelling where the injection was given
  • A small, hard lump where the injection was given (can last 1-2 weeks)
  • Drowsiness

If you’re concerned about the persistence or severity of the side effects that you or your loved one is experiencing, please either see your GP or visit your nearest hospital immediately.

Is the flu vaccination safe?

Yes. All flu vaccines currently available in Australia are safe to use in adults. In Australia, the flu vaccine (and all other vaccines, in fact) must pass stringent safety testing before being approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Can I get the flu vaccine if I am over 65?

If you are over 65, please consult your GP, pharmacist or immunisation provider before booking your appointment.

When do I need to see a doctor?

  • If you have an underlying condition such as asthma, shortness of breath, or if you fall under the high-risk category, you should see your doctor immediately when flu symptoms appear as you may need an antiviral prescription.
  • Any sign of infection i.e. sinus pain around the face when bending down.

When should I go to a hospital?

Call an ambulance if you experience any of the below:

  • Trouble breathing, or breathing is painful
  • Inability to keep fluids down
  • Blood in phlegm
  • Inability to think clearly or speech is slurred
  • Weakness which results in an inability to sit or stand
  • Dehydration or limpness

Keep a regular check on babies and toddlers’ nappies. If the child has not taken fluids, appears limp, head is sunken, or has not had a wet nappy for a long period, they should be taken to hospital as they may be experiencing dehydration.

When is the best time to get vaccinated?

Vaccination is best undertaken in autumn (March – May) in anticipation of Australia’s peak flu season which usually occurs between June and September.

I have a flu vaccination voucher, what should I do with this?

To redeem your voucher for a free flu vaccination, you should bring your voucher with you on your next trip to your local TerryWhite Chemmart, ensuring you also have photo identification. Be sure to check out our other FAQs (above) to confirm you’re eligible to be vaccinated against the flu.