Influenza (flu) is an extremely contagious viral infection that is responsible for major outbreaks of respiratory illness. Unlike the common cold, influenza can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications which often require hospitalisation.
The flu virus is especially dangerous for elderly people, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and very young children, as well as for people with underlying medical conditions. It is estimated that each year, flu contributes to an average of 13,500 hospitalisations and more than 3,000 deaths among Australians aged over 50 years.
Influenza is spread through the air by coughing or sneezing, or by direct contact with the virus on hard surfaces or people’s hands. The flu usually differs from a cold as flu symptoms tend to develop abruptly one to three days after infection, and can include: tiredness, high fever, chills, headache, coughing, sneezing, runny noses, poor appetite, and muscle aches. Most people who get the flu will suffer from mild illness and will recover in less than two weeks. However, some people can develop longer-term health problems, including pneumonia, bronchitis, chest and sinus infections, heart, blood system or liver complications, which can lead to hospitalisation and even death.
Vaccination offers effective protection against influenza, although vaccines need to be given each year as flu viruses are always changing. Elite Medical & Dental Group will be offering both the trivalent (3 strain) and quadrivalent (4 strain) vaccinations from April 2016.
The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone from six months of age, but is available free under the National Immunisation Program for people who face a high risk from influenza and its complications.
Elite will also be available to provide workplace vaccinations for local businesses. For further information please call our office on 03 5911 7014.