As we move into winter, flu season is well and truly upon us. More than ever, it’s important to protect yourself and your family from the influenza virus.
What is influenza?
Influenza, or flu, is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. There are two main types of influenza virus that cause infection – types A and B – and many sub-types or strains. Flu can occur throughout the year but influenza activity usually peaks in winter.
Most people recover from the flu after a few days but for some people it can be fatal.
Symptoms of influenza include:
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches
- Vomiting and diarrhoea (sometimes)
Severe cases can also result in breathing difficulty and pneumonia.
How does the flu spread?
Influenza is spread by virus particles in tiny droplets from the cough or sneeze of a sick person. When these droplets land on surfaces, the virus can then be picked up by someone touching the surface.
How can I protect myself from the flu?
There are four important steps you can take to prevent yourself and your family from the flu.
Get a flu shot
The best protection from influenza is to get a vaccination each year. Vaccination is available to anyone 6 months and older, as long as they don’t have a medical reason that prevents them from receiving it. By having a flu shot, you also help to protect those around you who are particularly vulnerable, as it slows the spread of the virus.
Sneeze into your elbow
Sneezing into your elbow (sometimes called a Vampire Sneeze), helps to prevent the spread of many illnesses, including influenza. Alternatively, cover your face with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw used tissues in the bin.
Wash your hands
Good hand hygiene is also important in the fight against diseases like influenza. Wash your hands thoroughly, for at least 20 seconds. You should wash your hands regularly throughout the day, especially after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. If you can’t wash your hands with water and soap, an alcohol-based hand rub is a good alternative, however this should not replace regular hand washing.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
It is important to stay home to prevent the spread with any illness, however it is particularly important with highly contagious illnesses such as the flu. By staying home, you will protect others who may be more vulnerable to the illness. This also applies to preventing the flu. By avoiding close contact with people who are sick, you will reduce the risk of catching influenza.
O’Connell St Clinic is now offering flu vaccinations for out-of-pocket cost of $16.50. To book, call our reception team on (02) 9241 1577, or click here. Be sure to select “Flu Vaccination Clinic” as your appointment type.