Protect yourself from flu this winter

Tasmanians are urged to protect themselves and their loved ones from flu by having a vaccination ahead of the winter influenza season.

Director of Public Health Dr Roscoe Taylor said the seasonal flu vaccine is now available to help protect against three flu viruses expected to be the most common in 2012: Influenza B and two Influenza A types, including H1N1.

“Even if you received the vaccine last year, it is vitally important you do so again to ensure continued protection against flu because immunity is only short-lived,” Dr Taylor said.

“Although it is difficult to predict what kind of flu season we will experience, we expect flu activity to pick up from May to June.

“Now is the best time to make sure you get your shot, before the flu season starts, especially if you are at risk of severe influenza and complications.”

Tasmanians at risk of severe influenza 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.

Free vaccinations are available for these groups through general practitioners and other immunisation providers, although they may charge a fee for their service.

The vaccine is also recommended for Tasmanians who work or live with people at risk of severe influenza.

“On top of the seasonal flu shot, we can all take very basic steps to help prevent the spread of flu and to protect against other common respiratory illnesses that may be circulating,” Dr Taylor said.

  • Wash your hands regularly, especially before touching your face, food or utensils.
  • If you do get sick, please don’t share it – cover your mouth with the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze, and remember to wash your hands afterwards.
  • Stay away from work or school if you are ill.

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

For more information visit www.publichealthalerts.tas.gov.au