Help ward off the winter flu

Tasmanians are reminded that there is still time to get their annual flu vaccination before the winter flu season starts.

With only 18 notified cases of flu in Tasmania this year, Specialist Medical Advisor Dr Fay Johnston said it is not too late to get vaccinated.

"It takes a couple of weeks for immunity to kick in, so by getting vaccinated now you will have plenty of antibodies circulating in your body before you come in contact with the virus," Dr Johnston said.

"Vaccination helps both you and others – if you don't get flu, you can't spread it to the people around you.

"That's why we recommend vaccination to people other than those at risk of severe flu.

“We also encourage anyone who lives or works with vulnerable people to get vaccinated."

Tasmanians at risk of severe flu include:

  • anyone aged 65 and over
  • Indigenous people
  • pregnant women
  • adults and children from six months of age with underlying medical conditions, such as heart and lung disease, cancers, HIV, asthma and diabetes.

Vaccination is available through GPs, other immunisation providers or, in some cases, through workplace vaccination programs.

Tasmanians will be able to track the spread of flu in their state by accessing the fortnightly flu activity data at www.publichealthalerts.tas.gov.au

"Vaccination is just one way that helps keep the whole community safe and healthy," Dr Johnston said.

"It also helps if we practice good hygiene.

“This includes washing our hands regularly, covering our coughs and sneezes, and staying away from other people if we do get sick.

"We publish the fluTAS Report so everyone in the community can access the latest information on just how much flu-like illness is occurring.

“FluTAS also provides an indication of whether the preventive measures we're taking are working to ward off the winter flu."

The fluTAS Report 2012 uses data from local GPs, laboratory testing and information from Tasmanian contributors to the national online FluTracker program.

For more information or to access the latest fluTAS Report visit www.publichealthalerts.tas.gov.au