Flu Vaccine and Influenza


There have been 41,336 notifications of Influenza in Australia since March 2012 with 13% or 5443 cases being in Victoria. There are many more cases than notifications as often people may not seek medical attention or are not routinely tested for influenza when they present.

Australia and Victoria has an extended influenza season with cases still occurring. With global travel continuing to increase influenza can be a risk at any time.

The Royal Women’s has notified us of 7 pregnant women who were admitted with influenza in the last week in September and are encouraging us to vaccinate all pregnant women not previously vaccinated to receive their free vaccine. Babies receive 6 month immunity from their Mother’s influenza vaccine.

Influenza A has been the main circulating virus while the proportion of Influenza B is now increasing.

The 2012 vaccine contains A/California/2009(H1n1), A/Perth/2009(h3N2) and B/Brisbane/2008 like strain.

Those at high risk who can receive the free flu vaccine include:

  1. Everyone over 65
  2. Indigenous people aged 15 and over
  3. Pregnant women at any stage in their pregnancy
  4. Any person over 6 months with
    •       Cardiac disease
    •       Chronic respiratory disease including asthma
    •       Chronic renal or liver disease
    •       Diabetes Mellitus
    •       Chronic Metabolic Disease
    •       Immunosuppression including cancer, HIV , immunosuppressive medications
    •       Chronic neurological disorders

The 2013 vaccine will become available in March and will contain an A/Victoria 2011(h3n2), an A/California/2009(H1N1) and a B/Wisconsin 2010 .

It is important to be vaccinated annually if in a high risk group .

Influenza vaccine also reduces workplace absenteeism from illness and many companies invest in vaccinating their Staff. Centres such as Health Care and Aged Care facilities should encourage maximum staff vaccination.

Overseas travel increases the risk of influenza and it is a recommended   pre travel vaccine. !% of all travellers are affected by influenza.

Travelling on public transport and working in large open plan air-conditioned offices with no opening windows increases influenza risk.

Those who are infected should not attend school, childcare, work or public gatherings and should observe cough, hand hygiene and respiratory/ cough etiquette.

Those who become infected and who have not been vaccinated and are at high risk or in contact with those at high risk should seek medical attention within 48 hours to discuss treatment with antiviral medication such as Tamiflu or Relenza.

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