The flu takes the lives of thousands of Australians each year, and hospitalises many others. The Australian government recommends that everyone over the age of six months receive a flu vaccine to protect them during the winter months. Fortunately the flu vaccine cost is affordable, and certain high risk individuals may qualify for a free flu shot. Let’s take a look at some flu vaccine benefits and how they weigh up against the cost.
Why The Case For The Influenza Vaccine?
Every year a new strain of the flu affects the general population and no one ever really knows how severe it is until it happens. Currently ,the most effective preventative measure available to safeguard the general population against the flu is the annual vaccine.
By getting vaccinated you can prevent loss of productivity, and extra expenses in medication and professional fees.
Free Vaccines For High Risk Individuals
For the 2019 flu season the Government’s National Immunisation Program has made 6 million vaccines available for free to people who have the highest risk of contracting influenza.
Who Qualifies For A Free Vaccine?
Pregnant women, people over the age of 65, sufferers of chronic health conditions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over six months of age qualify for free flu shots.
Who Should Get The Vaccine?
The government recommends that everyone over the age of six months have the influenza vaccine to protect them against influenza. If as many people as possible get the vaccine, the overall health of communities can improve, and also herd immunity may protect the people who cannot be vaccinated, like those who are too young or too sick.
How Does It Work?
The vaccine encourages your body to develop antibodies to fight it. This means when you come into contact with the virus again you will be equipped to fight it off and hopefully not get sick.
When Should You Have The Influenza Vaccine?
Because the virus mutates from year to year, it is recommended that you have your flu shot annually. What protected you last season may no longer be effective when the new strains of flu are in circulation.
Authorities also advise against getting the shot too early in the autumn, because it is possible for the virus to mutate and strike again in early spring.
But it is difficult to predict when is the best time to have the shot – because it reaches its peak at different times every year.
And furthermore, the effects of the flu vaccine are most protective in the three to four months after the shot is administered. After that, it starts to lose its effectiveness.
On average, the peak season for influenza is between June and August, but in some years it is as early as May, and in some others as late as September. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) recommend getting the shot towards the end of April or beginning of May. Having your vaccine between the end of April and beginning of May should give you immunity for the peak of the flu season, which is usually in June.
What Are The Flu Vaccine Benefits?
Ultimately, the vaccine should improve your immunity sufficiently to protect you against developing influenza. In the event that you get the flu, it will probably be milder than if you were not vaccinated. Even if you have the flu immunisation, you will need to take good care of your body by maintaining a nutritious diet, getting enough sleep, managing your stress levels and doing regular exercise.
While you may not be a high risk individual with serious health consequences, getting the flu means ten days of discomfort and unproductivity, and hoping you recover quicker. In this case, the vaccine also makes you less likely to pass the disease on to other people.
Is The Vaccine Worth It?
While individual health and immunity plays a role in whether you get flu and how severe it is, the vaccine is generally between 60 and 70% effective in healthy people. There is no guarantee you won’t get the virus, but statistically the chances of staying healthy are in your favour.
Flu Vaccine Benefits Vs Flu Vaccine Cost
The cost of the vaccine is nominal and certainly worth the investment when you consider the cost of medication and visits to your doctor if you do get ill. It also allows you to be proactive, rather than reactive, while contributing to the herd immunity of your local community.
There is no script required for your flu shot. Sirius Health is proud to offer our patients the option of an online booking to schedule your flu immunisation at the most convenient time. If you still have questions about flu vaccine cost or would prefer to speak to a professional, please give us a call – we’d love to help you stay healthy this winter: (02) 9159 6903