Written by: Melanie Wong
The main health risk of the year is, of course, COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean you should let yourself be distracted from things you normally protect yourself against, such as the flu. In Australia, we’re well into the flu season now so here are 5 things you should be thinking about this flu season to protect you and your loved ones.
1. Going to a clinic is perfectly safe
It was a common fear about three months ago that going to a clinic would heighten your chances of contracting COVID-19. However, the pros of going to a clinic for your flu shot far outweigh the cons – getting your flu shot strengthens your immunity against this year’s strain of the flu, ideally preventing you from getting the flu and the consequent fear of your symptoms being those of the new coronavirus. As long as you take precautions, such as washing your hands, physical distancing, or sticking out a 14-day mandatory isolation, it is safe and encouraged for people to go to a clinic when unwell or in need of a flu shot.
2. Everyone should be getting their flu shot
Whether you’re six months old or sixty years old, the flu shot is for you. The Minister for Health Greg Hunt has advised everyone over the age of six months should be taking the flu shot. If you’re someone with a chronic illness, pregnant, over 65, or an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, you may be eligible for a free flu shot. (Check here for the full list.) Just as you socially distance yourself to protect the community from COVID-19, you should get your flu shot to protect the community from spreading the flu, which can kill hundreds of Australians every year.
3. The flu and COVID-19 are a double whammy to avoid for you and healthcare staff
As of yet, there is no vaccination for COVID-19 but there is an available flu vaccine. Experts say the outlook can be pretty grim for those who get both respiratory illnesses at the same time. Not only do you reduce your chances of recovery, but you also add an extra burden onto hospitals and the healthcare system. At the moment, Australia has flattened the curve, despite a recent spike in cases in Victoria. While things are slowly getting back to normal, it’s important for everyone to stay community-conscious, especially of those working on the frontline and essential workers.
4. Call your local medical supplier to find out where you can buy a flu shot
While the flu shot is more accessible now, in April, buying your flu vaccine was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Most pharmacies will now be well stocked with the vaccine but it’s best to call your GP or local chemist beforehand to check so that you’re not making any unnecessary trips.
5. Better late than never
We’re three months into the flu season but we’re still in the thick of it. Even if you’re a fit, healthy, young person, it’s worth it to get your flu shot as a failsafe to protect your own health and the health of others around you. As more people are understanding, just because you are healthy enough to fall ill and recover doesn’t mean that the person you pass it onto is.