As the temperatures start to drop, some of us may begin feeling a little worse for wear. Flu symptoms will start to appear as the months get colder – that’s why it’s important to know how to manage your health this flu season.
Whether you’re a support worker or client, live in a rural or metropolitan area or have never had flu symptoms, the annual flu can still affect you.
Although elderly people and infants are most prone to contracting the flu, there are some simple tips and important information that the wider community can follow to help prevent the flu from spreading.
How can I prevent the flu?
There’s no sure-fire way to prevent the flu, but these tips could help you have the best chance of avoiding it.
- Think twice about your hygiene practices. Thorough and correct hygiene practices are vital in preventing the spread of the flu. These might include washing your hands regularly, particularly after touching your nose and mouth. Sneezing and coughing into tissues then throwing them away immediately will also prevent germs spreading.
- Clean shared surfaces such as keyboards, phones and door handles and avoid sharing cups, cutlery and towels to ensure germs don’t spread.
- Get your flu vaccination in early autumn. According to healthdirect, it’s best to get your flu shot well before winter because this will allow your immunity to strengthen. The flu season typically lasts from June to September, but the Australian Government recommends that all Australians get their vaccinations from mid-April.
Where can I get vaccinated?
To get vaccinated for the flu, you can make an appointment with your trusted GP or visit a community health clinic or a pharmacy offering vaccinations. Free flu vaccines are available for certain people from April 2018 under the National Immunisation Program.
Am I eligible for the free flu shot?
The National Immunisation Program ensures that people more susceptible to flu illness are immunised for free. You are eligible for a free flu shot if you:
- are 65 years or older;
- have certain medical conditions including heart disease, severe asthma, chronic lung conditions, diseases of the nervous system, impaired immunity, diabetes, kidney disease or blood disorders;
- are pregnant; or
- are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent.
All vaccines are age-specific. If you are 65 years or older, you may have access to two new specialised vaccines. You can discuss this directly with your GP.
How much protection does it provide?
For healthy adults, the flu vaccination is 60-70% effective. If you are a support worker providing aged care services or are currently supporting people living with a disability, getting your flu vaccination means you are safeguarding not just yourself but your client as well.
It’s important for support workers to help create a safe and healthy environment for their clients. As an independent contractor, an illness can create unwelcome disruptions for your business, so it’s equally important to look after your own health and wellbeing. For more information on immunisation and how the Government plans to improve immunisation rates, visit the Department of Health.
If you require aged care and haven’t yet received your flu vaccination, we recommend you visit a trusted GP.
Good health goes hand in hand with quality aged care support. If you’re looking to improve the support you currently have, search Better Caring to find quality support workers in your local area today.