450% increase in flu cases

A regular flu shot being administeredA regular flu shot being administered

Flu season has hit early and the Central Coast Health District is encouraging locals to get their fl u shot and protect themselves from respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.

District Director of Public Health, Dr Peter Lewis, said the flu vaccine takes about two weeks to become effective, so there was still time to get the fl u vaccination. “For those with a chronic medical condition like asthma, the yearly vaccination is the best way to protect against fu,” Dr Lewis said. “A new vaccine needs to be given each year because influenza viruses change. “The influenza virus causes fever, chills, headache, dry cough, weakness and aching limbs. “The fever passes in a few days, but the weakness and the cough can last for a week or more,” Dr Lewis said.

The flu season starts around July but the Central Coast has already recorded 88 fl u cases in June compared to 16 flu notifications for the same period last year. With numbers increasing, the District is anticipating a gradual rise in fl u cases over the next four to six weeks. Dr Lewis said despite the common misconception, the fl u shot cannot cause fl u illness. “Flu vaccines used in Australia are made with vaccine viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ so they are not infectious,” he said.

Free seasonal influenza vaccine is available for the following people who are considered more vulnerable to influenza: all people aged 65 years and over; all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 6 months to 5 years; all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over; pregnant women; and people with certain chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease.

Source: Media release, Jul 10 Clare Graham, Central Coast Local Health District