Beat flu to punch with vaccine shot

FEELING feverish and suffering from a dry cough, muscle pains, a headache or sore throat?

Then forget about coming into work today.

That's the message Dr Fiona Millard, of the Mackay Division of General Practice, wants to deliver to those people suffering from the dreaded flu this season.

“You might think you're indispensable but coming into the office is the worst thing you can do,” she said.

“All you're doing is spreading the virus around.The flu is highly contagious and can be passed on through talking, coughing and sneezing.”

Doctor David Parker, of the Pioneer Valley Hospital, said the flu vaccine was one of the best ways to prevent catching the flu this winter.

“This year's vaccine provides protection against three of the most common strains of the flu,” he said.

“The best time to get it is now, before the weather gets cooler and the flu virus spreads.”

Dr Parker said people aged over 65, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over 50 and those 15 to 49 years with chronic diseases got the vaccine free.

“Otherwise the shot costs between $22 and $26 without a low-income health care card,” he said.

“To get the vaccine you need to make an appointment with your GP.”

Dr Parker said some employers provided the flu vaccine to their employees free.

“It's becoming a more common practice, especially for people who work closely together like miners and retail assistants,” he said.

Dr Parker said it was a myth that the flu vaccine caused people to come down with the virus.

“Most people leave it too late to get the vaccine and when they do get it they have already been exposed to it and that's why they get the flu.”

Other ways to fight the flu include washing hands frequently with soap and water, or using alcohol-based rubs to disinfect hands, and drinking plenty of fluids.

Fast facts
  •  The flu is highly contagious and can be spread through talking, coughing and sneezing.
  •  It is caused by a virus and is more serious than the common cold.
  •  Symptoms usually appear one to three days after being infected.
  •  Symptoms include sudden fever, dry cough, muscle aches and pains, fatigue, headache, sore throat and a stuffy or runny nose.
  •  A person can spread the flu to others a day or two before they become unwell and up to five days after they have become unwell for adults.
  •  Most people recover within a week, although a cough and tiredness may persist.
  •  The flu vaccine is available from your GP.

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