The Flu Vaccine – Get Protected in 2023

Flu vaccines: What you need to know

A flu vaccine is a type of vaccine that is designed to protect against influenza viruses. It contains small amounts of inactive or weakened virus particles that stimulate the body's immune system to produce antibodies against the virus. These antibodies help to prevent infection if the person is exposed to the virus.

The flu, also known as influenza, is a contagious respiratory illness that can cause mild to severe illness, and in some cases, can lead to hospitalization or even death. Each year, the flu affects millions of people worldwide, causing significant economic and social impacts. The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated.

Who should get vaccinated?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone six months of age and older get vaccinated against the flu each year, especially those who are at high risk of developing complications from the flu. This includes:

- Children aged six months to five years
- Pregnant women
- Adults aged 65 years and older
- People with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease
- Healthcare workers
- Caregivers of children and adults with high risk of complications from the flu

What are the types of flu vaccines?

There are several types of flu vaccines available, including:

- Inactivated flu vaccine: This vaccine is made from killed flu viruses and is given as an injection.
- Live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV): This vaccine is made from weakened live viruses and is given as a nasal spray.
- Adjuvanted flu vaccine: This vaccine contains an ingredient that helps to enhance the body's immune response to the vaccine.
- High-dose flu vaccine: This vaccine is designed for people aged 65 years and older and contains four times the amount of antigen as the regular flu vaccine.
- Recombinant flu vaccine: This vaccine is made using genetic engineering and does not require the use of eggs, which is helpful for people with egg allergies.
All flu vaccines are designed to protect against the most common strains of the flu virus for that particular season.

Are there any side effects of the flu vaccine?

Like all vaccines, the flu vaccine can cause side effects. The most normal side effects are mild and include soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site, fever, and body aches. These side effects usually go away within a few days.

In very rare cases, the flu vaccine can cause more serious side effects, such as an allergic reaction. However, the risk of serious side effects is very low compared to the benefits of vaccination.

The flu season:

In Australia, the flu season typically runs from June to September, with the peak occurring in August. According to the Australian Government Department of Health, during the 2020 flu season, there were only 21,745 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza, compared to over 300,000 cases in the previous year. This significant drop in cases can be attributed to a combination of factors, including increased vaccination rates, improved hygiene practices, and COVID-19 restrictions. It's important to note that even with lower numbers, the flu can still be a serious illness and getting vaccinated is still recommended to protect against the virus.

In light of the statistics in Australia, it's clear that the flu vaccine plays a critical role in reducing the number of cases and protecting the population from the flu. Even with a lower number of cases, the flu can still cause significant harm and lead to hospitalization or even death. Therefore, it's essential that everyone who is eligible gets vaccinated against the flu each year. By getting vaccinated, not only are you protecting yourself from the virus, but you're also playing a role in preventing the spread of the flu to those who may be more vulnerable.

The flu vaccine is safe and effective, and can help to prevent the spread of the flu and reduce the severity of illness if you do get sick. Talk to our health care professionals about getting vaccinated and stay healthy and protected this flu season.

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