It's time for your flu jab

Population Health Services Senior Medical Advisor Dr Mark Veitch has urged Tasmanians to take steps to protect their health ahead of the winter flu season.

Dr Veitch said the 2014 flu vaccine was now available to help protect against the three most common influenza viruses expected this winter: two types of Influenza A and one type of Influenza B.

"You need flu vaccine each year to be protected. Flu immunity is only short lived and the mix of influenza viruses changes each year," Dr Veitch said.

"A flu season happens every winter. It usually starts in June or July, so now's the time to have your flu injection."

Flu vaccine is free to protect those Tasmanians who are at greater risk of severe complications of influenza. These people include:

*        anyone aged 65 years and over

*        indigenous people aged 15 years and over

*        pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy

*        adults and children from six months of age who have chronic medical conditions such as heart, lung or kidney diseases, asthma, diabetes, cancers, impaired immunity and neuromuscular conditions.

The vaccine itself is free for people in these groups through GPs and other immunisation providers, although GPs may charge for the consultation.

Tasmanians who live or work with people at risk of developing severe flu should also consider getting the vaccine.

"As well as getting the seasonal flu injection, there are some simple steps we can take to help prevent the spread of flu and other common infections," Dr Veitch said.

*        Cover your mouth and nose if you are coughing or sneezing, and wash your hands regularly.

*        If you are unwell, stay away from work or school so you don't spread it around.

For more information visit www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/peh/infectious_diseases/flu or www.immunise.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/immunise-influenza-qanda