Flu warning after hospitalisations

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With one in five Great Southern residents with the flu last winter requiring hospitalisation, health authorities have warned people to get vaccinated.

The flu season typically runs from May to October in Australia, with a peak in August. The virus can cause mild to serious illness and WACHS Great Southern public health physician Dr Marisa Gilles highlighted the importance of the vaccination.

“Flu activity most commonly peaks in between August and September and flu vaccine protection may start to decline from three to four months following vaccination,” she said.

“Last year, 21 per cent of the 215 people diagnosed with influenza in the Great Southern region required hospitalisation.”

Dr Gilles said the winter virus could spread easily.

“Flu is a highly contagious and potentially serious disease that mainly spreads by droplets produced when an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes,” she said.

“Droplets can also settle onto surfaces such as computer desks, doorknobs and telephones, and can then infect people when passed from the hands to the mouth or nose.”

Dr Gilles stressed the importance of being vaccinated, indicating the vaccine was not a live virus.

“Influenza can be serious, not only for individuals and their families who contract it but also for the organisations they work for and the people they care for,” she said.

“The best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated. You can’t catch flu from the vaccine as it does not contain any live virus.”

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