Why get the flu shot?

The flu is not just a bad cold. Influenza is a highly contagious and potentially life threatening viral infection, that’s spread through coughing and sneezing. The best protection against it is getting the flu shot.

Every year, about 3,500 Australians die from the flu and many more are hospitalised. In 2015, almost 100 thousand Australians battled the flu. 

Bupa’s National Medical Director and GP Dr Tim Ross says it’s particularly dangerous for older people, pregnant women, young children, and those with respiratory conditions.

What is the flu shot?

The flu vaccine has a part of each virus that causes antibodies to develop in the body which help to protect against infection from the specific viruses in the vaccine.

Each year the flu shot is different to specifically target strains of the virus which are likely to circulate each year.
While it’s not a guarantee you won’t get a flu, recent studies show getting the jab every 12 months reduces your risk of developing it by up to 60 per cent.

Can the flu shot give you the flu?

No. The flu vaccination does not contain any live viruses so it cannot give you the flu. Some people do have a reaction to the jab and experience flu like symptoms including; fever, aches and pains and tiredness. However, these symptoms are generally mild and go away without treatment within a few days.  

The good news is if you have a reaction, it’s a sign your body will be well protected from the full blown flu. However if it happens every year, it might be worth talking to your doctor about getting a half dose, or a child’s dose to reduce the risk of a reaction.

When should I get vaccinated?

It’s recommended anyone over the age of 6 months old get the flu shot in early autumn. This will ensure there is enough time for your body’s immunity to the virus to be strengthened before winter. 

You should get a flu shot every 12 months as flu viruses are always changing. Usually the latest vaccine will arrive at your doctor’s office in April, but this may vary from year to year. 

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