Influenza (flu) is a highly contagious and potentially life-threatening disease.
Influenza is not the same as the common cold and even young and healthy people may take two weeks or more to fully recover from the illness.
You can’t catch flu from the vaccine.
Influenza vaccine does not contain any live viruses and therefore cannot cause the illness. Occasionally, some people may already have a flu infection when they received the flu shot and only realise afterwards, once symptoms start to show.
The flu vaccine is your best defence.
Especially for those most vulnerable to influenza, including the elderly, pregnant women, immunocompromised individuals and children.
You can carry and spread the flu bug without showing signs or symptoms of having influenza.
Some carriers of the flu virus may be asymptomatic yet still contagious, meaning they are able to spread the flu to unsuspecting colleagues, family, friends and strangers without knowing.
The number of deaths from influenza each year is similar to the number of Australian road traffic fatalities.
Influenza causes an estimated 1,500 deaths,1 18,000 hospitalisations and 300,000 GP consultations2 annually in Australia.
People need to get vaccinated even if they are healthy.
Anyone can contract influenza and being fit and healthy does not protect against infection.For some people the result of an influenza infection will be lost income through days off work, but for those at high risk of developing complications from influenza, the results can be much more serious, including hospitalisation or death.
It is necessary to get vaccinated against influenza every year.
The types of influenza viruses circulating in the community change from year to year. In light of this, a new vaccine is made each year to protect against the current strains. In addition, immunity provided by the current influenza vaccines begins to fade after a year, so it is important to get vaccinated against influenza every year regardless of vaccine strain changes.
You can usually still get a flu shot if you have a minor illness.
Minor illnesses without fever should not prevent vaccination, especially if the person is in one of the groups at risk, such as the elderly, immune-compromised, pregnant women and children.
1. National Institute of Clinical Studies Influenza. Flu Facts. Found at: http://www.fightflu.com.au/asp/index.asp?sid=2118&page=influenza
2. Newall A, et al. Economic report into the cost of influenza to the Australian health system. March 2007
3. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Causes of death Australia 2005: 3303.0 p30