The Road Ahead : April May 2012
WWW.ROADAHEAD.COM.AU 18 THE ROAD AHEAD APR/MAY 2012 This winter, thousands of Australians will visit their doctor complaining of the flu. Can a vaccine prevent you from becoming one of them? WE'VE ALL HEARD someone say they've had the flu vaccine, only to be struck down by the illness regardless. Then there are those who haven't had the vaccine and remain flu-free. While there might still be scepticism about the effectiveness, or even necessity, of the flu vaccine, there is one simple fact everyone agrees on -- nobody enjoys being sick. And with more than 80,000 people across Australia expected to be struck down by the flu this winter, it's comforting to know there is a way to protect ourselves. So whether you're a believer or a non-believer, here are the facts. First of all, influenza is different to the common cold. It is a highly-contagious disease, caused by a virus that can be spread through people talking, coughing or sneezing. Symptoms can include sudden fever, dry cough, muscle aches and pains, fatigue, headache, sore throat and a stuffy or runny nose. The influenza vaccine contains killed influenza virus components, salt water, trace amounts of an antibiotic and a preservative. Even though the vaccine contains components of the influenza virus, they are dead, making it impossible to get the flu from having a flu shot. However, as the vaccine takes up to 14 days to take effect, it is possible to catch the influenza virus before, or just after, you are vaccinated. If you are vaccinated when you contract the flu, the illness is usually much less severe. In fact, the vaccine actually prepares and boosts your immune system to help fight the virus if you are exposed. For more information about the influenza vaccine, visit your doctor or call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84). www.health.qld.gov.au DID YOU KNOW? • More than 2500 Australians are estimated to die each year from complications caused by influenza. • For young children and the elderly, influenza is one of the most common causes of hospitalisation for vaccine preventable diseases in Queensland. • Like all medications, vaccines may have side effects. Most side effects are minor, last a short time and do not lead to any long-term problems. • Influenza vaccines are prepared in hen's eggs, and therefore should not be given to anyone with a known serious anaphylactic reaction to egg products. LIFESTYLE HEALTH + WELLBEING STORY DEB ECCLESTON is the flu shot a silver bullet?
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