Influenza or 'the flu' is a highly contagious disease caused by infection with influenza type A or B virus. These viruses infect the upper airways and lungs. Flu is not the same as a common cold, and can be a serious illness. For some people, such as the elderly, and the very young, those with underlying medical conditions and pregnant women, the flu can cause serious complications which require hospitalisation. It can sometimes lead to death. On average around 15 children die each year of influenza and around 2000 adults die.
Flu vaccination is required annually, as immunity from the vaccine decreases over time and the vaccine is changed each year to cover the changing virus strains. As our flu season usually starts around August/September, the best time to be vaccinated against flu is between April and June. Vaccination usually takes up to 2 weeks to be effective. Older persons aged 65 and above should receive their flu vaccine in May/June to ensure they have adequate immunity during the flu season.
During the 2017 influenza season there were over 250,000 reported cases of influenza in Australia, over 50,000 cases in Queensland and over 5000 cases on the Gold Coast. Most of the hospitalised cases were very young children and the elderly.
Due to the severity of influenza illness in the young and elderly, the Queensland Government has introduced free flu vaccine for children six months to less than 5 years and the Federal Government is providing a more enhanced flu vaccine for adults 65 years and older. It is critical that we vaccinate young children, not just to protect them but also to decrease the amount of spread of influenza in the community.
Gold Coast Public Health Community Clinics offer free flu vaccine to anyone who wishes to be protected during the flu season. If you don’t have access to the free vaccine, you can arrange to be vaccinated by a doctor or immunisation nurse at your local medical centre for a nominal cost. Many community pharmacies also offer a private flu vaccination service.
Gold Coast Health recommends all Residential Care Facilities (RCF) have an Influenza Readiness Plan in place to ensure effective protection for residents. For more information read Influenza Readiness presentation and Readiness Plan template. If you require further assistance send your enquiry details to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are in a high-risk group, you can be vaccinated for free under the Immunise Australia program at any vaccine service provider.
High-risk groups include:
- All children aged 6 months to <5 years of age
- All adults aged ≥65 years of age (to receive high dose or adjuvanted flu vaccine)
- Pregnant women during any trimester and all year round
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged >15 years of age
- Individuals >6 months of age with medical conditions predisposing them to severe influenza.
Gold Coast Public Health Community Clinics offer free flu vaccine to anyone who wishes to be protected during the flu season.