1 in 2 Aussie adults won't get flu jab
In August 2014, Brisbane-based emergency department nurse Jess, 32, was treating a patient experiencing respiratory problems, when the patient coughed on her.
A few days later, Jess developed aches and pains throughout her body, accompanied by a fever, vomiting and general lethargy. Engulfed in a haze of pain, she visited her GP and was diagnosed with the flu.
“I went straight home, and passed out on the couch. I lost four days of my life in a blur of sickness. It was horrible,” Jess said.
Having worked as a nurse for 10 years, Jess is well aware of the seriousness of influenza. “It’s a deadly virus, and I have personally witnessed a number of people die as a result of the flu,” she said.
“One myth is that only old people die from complications of the flu. I can tell you first-hand, that young, healthy people die from the flu as well. It’s a virus that attacks your body, and if it isn’t treated quickly, it can attack your heart muscles and render even the fittest person completely debilitated.”
Sydney-based nurse and lifesaver Lewis, 24, concurs.
“I hadn’t realised the seriousness of the flu until I began nursing last year — it just hadn’t dawned on me," Lewis said.
“I missed the free staff flu vaccination at the hospital and mistakenly thought my immune system was strong enough to ward off the flu.”
What started as “just a tickle at the back of the throat” quickly transformed into a few weeks of sickness during where Lewis was forced to take significant time off work.
For two months, Lewis experienced headaches and body aches, blocked sinuses and a heavy, chesty cough that kept him up at night, further compounding his fatigue.
Lewis, now an advocate for in-pharmacy vaccination, is planning to vaccinate against the flu this year, and he is encouraging his colleagues to do the same.
However, new research by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (The Guild) has found that one in two Australian adults do not plan to vaccinate against flu this year1 despite last year’s record flu season which saw more than 249,000 reported infections.2 On average, around 3000 Australians die from the flu each year,3 while approximately 18,000 Australians are hospitalised.
The research found that 43% of Australian adults don’t realise that annual flu vaccination is required for optimal protection against the potentially life-threatening virus1 and 77% of respondents were unaware that the flu virus can remain active when airborne for 45 minutes or more.1,4
“I make sure I never miss my annual influenza shot,” said Jess. “While vaccination cannot afford protection against every influenza virus, it is developed to protect against the major circulation strains each year, and is the best form of defence against the flu.”
“It’s as simple as a trip to your local pharmacy. It takes all of three seconds, and if you’re lucky enough, they’ll give you a lollipop afterwards!”
1. Pharmacy Guild of Australia 2018 Flu Vaccination Study. Conducted by YouGov Galaxy; commissioned by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia. February 2018.
2. Australian Government Department of Health. National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System. Number of notifications of all diseases received from State and Territory health authorities, 2017 Report. Available at http://www9.health.gov.au/cda/source/rpt_4.cfm. [Accessed: March 2018].
3. Immunisation Coalition. Influenza treatment. Available at: http://www.immunisationcoalition.org.au/resources/influenza-treatment/ [Accessed: March 2018].
4. Influenza Specialist Group. How Influenza (flu) is spread. Available at http://www.isg.org.au/index.php/about-influenza/how-influenza-is-spread/ [Accessed: March 2018].
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