Don't forget to get your flu vaccine


Before the flu season approaches, think about the need to be vaccinated. All adults over the age of 65 years are eligible for a free vaccine. By Natalie Soulsby, Head of Clinical Development at Ward Medication Management

  • Autumn 2020
  • Health and wellness

Last year’s flu season had a larger number of cases than in 2018 and the season started early. There were about 3,915 hospital admissions between 1 April and 6 October 2019, and 40 per cent were aged over 65 years.

Vaccinations


Vaccination is best carried out between March and May each year and usually available from then, unless they are released early as they were in 2019. Full immunity is reached around 10–14 days after vaccination. Antibodies will peak at around four to six weeks, which is when a vaccinated person is most protected. Antibodies will gradually fall after that, but protection remains for around one year. Vaccination prevents up to 90 per cent of cases of influenza infection in healthy adults. Common side effects include injection site reactions, such as pain, redness, itching or swelling, a small hard lump that may persist few weeks, transient fever, muscle aches or headache, which usually last no more than one to two days.

You cannot, however, get the flu from the vaccination. The vaccine contains only inactivated virus particles and is,therefore, incapable of causing influenza infection. A runny nose or sore throat after vaccination may indicate a viral illness.This year the vaccines will cover new viral strains and there will be two main types offlu vaccine available

You cannot get the flu from the vaccination. The vaccine contains only inactivated virus particles. It is incapable of causing influenza infection. A runny nose or sore throat after vaccination may indicate a viral illness.

This year the vaccines will cover new viral strains and there will be two main types of flu vaccine available.

Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine (QIV)


This vaccine is suitable for adults up to 64 years of age.

It protects against four strains of influenza including two A strains and two B strains and offers broader protection than the old Trivalent vaccine by providing protection against an extra B strain of influenza. It is available in five different brands.

Trivalent Influenza Vaccine (TIV)


TIV is a high dose vaccine available in Australia to specifically provide increased protection for people aged 65 years and older.

It protects against two A strains and one B strain as those 65 and older are more susceptible to influenza A strains and the B strain appears to be less implicated. 

TIV is available in two different brands.

For those giving or receiving vaccinations, it is important to note that test doses are not recommended. Routine use of paracetamol to prevent fever at time of vaccination is also no longer recommended.

Most importantly, all vaccine recipients should be observed for at least 15 minutes after vaccination.


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