Doctor stresses immunisation as flu season approaches

THE Orange Family Medical Centre’s Dr Nathan Zhou is urging people to overcome any fears they have about influenza (flu) immunisation shots, before flu season hits.

Dr Zhou said his surgery had already started running weekly flu injection clinics which see as many as 40 patients within a 90-minute period.

“I think it’s very important that people get this done,” he said.

“The injections cover people for every strain of flu including swine and bird flues.”

Dr Zhou said some patients fear they’ll end up with a case of the flu after the injections, but he said any symptoms which do result are usually mild.

The co-ordinator of the immunisation service and population health unit for the Western NSW Local Health District Carole Gander confirmed there had been an increase in flu notifications when compared to the same time last year.

“The influenza season starts from April and lasts through to the end of September, vaccination before the flu season starts reduces your chances of getting sick with the flu,” she said.

“People most at risk of complications from influenza include the elderly, those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as chronic heart or lung diseases) and pregnant women.”

Ms Gander said it was important to remember that even healthy people can get severe influenza. 

“A higher rate of influenza and influenza-related complications is observed in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people compared with non-Indigenous Australians,” she said.

 Ms Gander said two doses of influenza vaccine at least one month apart are recommended for children aged six months to 10 years or under who are receiving influenza vaccine for the first time.

“The 2014 flu vaccination program starts after March 15, so people should make an appointment with their own doctor to organise a time for their flu vaccination,” she said.

“Some GP surgeries may conduct flu clinics at particular times to administer the flu vaccine to their clients.”

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