Flu Vaccination Available Instore
Contact one of our Flu Vaccination Clinics to make your appointment:
1. Introduction to influenza vaccination
Of the three types of influenza A, B and C most cases are caused by strains of type A and B. Different strains are more prevalent from one year to the next which is why the vaccines change each year. It is estimated that every year in Australia there are more than 13,000 hospitalisations and 3,000 deaths associated with influenza and its complications in people over 50 years of age alone (NCIRS 2015). There was a record number of 90,000 reported influenza cases in Australia in 2015 – 25,000 higher than the cases reported in 2014 (Source: NNDSS - Media release: Minister for Health. 6th Nov 2015)
In Australia the majority of influenza cases occur during the winter months between June and September. Vaccination in March/April will ensure protection during the peak flu season as it takes 10 to 14 days for a persons’ immune response to offer protection against influenza. Once people gain protection they will be covered beyond the end of the flu season as the duration of protection lasts between 6 to 12 months. Receiving an influenza vaccination results in the prevention of between 60-85% of cases of healthy children aged 6 months to 6 years and 60% of cases of adults less than 65 years of age (NCIRS 2015).
2. Herd immunity
Herd immunity works on a simple principle. If no one is immunised a contagious disease spreads throughout the community. If some of the population are immunised then the contagious disease spreads through some of the population. If most of the population are immunised then spread of the contagious disease is contained. This means by immunising and protecting enough people from influenza we can help protect people who cannot receive the vaccination (e.g. immunocompromised) by reducing the spread of disease
3. Trivalent vs Quadrivalent vaccines
The two types of inactivated influenza vaccines in Australia are trivalent (TIV) i.e. Influvac, and quadrivalent (QIV) i.e. FluQuadri. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended that the vaccine used for use in the 2016 influenza season in the Southern Hemisphere winter contain the following (WHO 2015):
- Strain A (H1N1): Californian like virus
- Strain A (H3N2): Hong Kong like virus
- Strain B: Brisbane like virus (Victoria lineage)
These three strains are contained in the trivalent vaccine. The quadrivalent influenza vaccine for the Australian 2016 influenza season contains the trivalent influenza vaccine components listed above, and the additional B strain: Phuket like virus (Yamagata lineage) (WHO 2015).
Influenza B viruses are estimated to have accounted for about 62 per cent of flu cases in Australia in 2015 (Media release: minister for Health. 6th Nov 2015). In 2015, Australia and New Zealand had a rapid increase in the proportion of Strain B – Brisbane like virus (Victoria lineage), which was observed from June and this became the predominant lineage by August 2015 (WHO vaccine recommendations, 2015).
The Australian Government has announced the adoption of the Quadrivalent vaccine for the National Immunisation Program (NIP) in 2016. This is the first year that government has moved to a Quadrivalent vaccine and is part of their effort to provide the greatest amount of protection for those at risk during the flu season (Department of Health media release, 6th Nov 2015).
What does this vaccine cover?
Trivalent (TIV) = Influvac
The components of this vaccination are according to the vaccine recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the southern hemisphere. This includes the predominate Strains:
Quadrivalent (QIV) = FluQuadri
The components of this vaccination are the same as the trivalent influenza vaccine components listed above, and the additional B strain: Phuket like virus (Yamagata lineage).
The National Immunization Program recommends this vaccine to provide the greatest amount protection for those who face a high risk from influenza and its complications. Including the elderly, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, very young children, as well as for people with underlying medical conditions.
- Influenza or the ‘flu’ is is a highly contagious viral infection that is responsible for major outbreaks of respiratory illness usually in the winter months.
- Unlike the common cold, influenza can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications such as pneumonia and bronchitis, which often require hospitalisation
- There was a record number of influenza cases in Australia in 2015 – 25,000 higher than the cases reported in 2014!
- It is estimated that every year in Australia more than 13,000 hospitalisations and 3,000 deaths associated with influenza and its complications in people over 50 years of age alone.
- Different strains of influenza are more prevalent from one year to the next which is why the vaccines change each year and why you need to be vaccinated each year.
- Vaccination in March/April will ensure protection during the peak flu season between June and September.
- Influenza can be spread to anyone, the young, old, healthy and the sick. Chances are at some point you will be exposed to this virus. By vaccinating yourself you are protecting yourself as well as the people who are at the highest risk – young children, elderly and pregnant women.
Q. What is the difference between the “common cold” and the “flu”
A. Influenza (flu) is generally more severe than the cold and symptoms come on quickly, those suffering will experience fever and body aches for 3 – 5 days, with coughing, congestion, headaches and fatigue lasting for two weeks or more. Unlike the cold, the flu can lead to serious health problems such as pneumonia and hospitalizations.
Q: I haven’t ever had the Flu, why should I be vaccinated?
A: Influenza can be spread to anyone, the young, old, healthy and the sick. Chances are at some point you will be exposed to this virus. By vaccinating yourself you are protecting yourself as well as the people who are at the highest risk – young children, elderly and pregnant women.
Q: Can everyone have the vaccination?
A: No, the following people cannot have the vaccination (Influvac PI)
- People with anaphylaxis to eggs, chicken products or the antibiotics Neomycin, Gentamicin and/or Polymyxin
- People who have had previous anaphylaxis to the influenza vaccine
- People with acute fever, which temperature exceeds 38.5 degrees Celsius
- People with a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome – with an onset related to an earlier influenza vaccination (use in precaution – refer to GP)
Q: How effective is the vaccine?
A: The influenza vaccine is to 60-85% effective in preventing influenza in healthy adults (Influenza vaccines for Australians, NCIRS Fact sheet: July 2015 1). The vaccine does not protect against other respiratory illnesses caused by other viruses such as the common cold.
Q: Can I catch the flu from the vaccine?
A: No, the vaccine is an inactivate virus particle. Because of this the virus cannot spread through your respiratory system and having the cause illness. However, you can still catch the flu while your body is developing its immunity from the vaccination– this takes around two weeks.
Q: How long does the vaccine protect me from the flu?
A: Once people gain protection they will be covered beyond the end of the flu season as the duration of protection lasts between 6 to 12 months. Because the influenza virus can change from year to year, you will need annual vaccination with the updated vaccine to gain ongoing protection.
Q: Is it safe for me to get the flu shot if I am pregnant?
A: Yes. The flu vaccine can be safely given during any stage of pregnancy. In fact, pregnant women are at the increased risk of severe disease of complications from the flu. Immunising against flu during pregnancy can not only protect women but provide ongoing protection to a newborn baby for the first six months after birth (refer patient onto GP for vaccination) (Immunise Australia Program 2015).
Q. Does the influenza vaccination increase the risk of Guillain-Barre syndrome?
A. One brand of influenza vaccine in the United States in 1976 resulted in a small increased risk of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS). Since 1976 the occurrence of BGS is less than 1 in 1 million doses of influenza vaccine, if at all (NCIRS 2015).
Q. Do children require a booster?
A. Children 6 months to less than 9 years should receive a second dose 4 weeks after the initial dose if they are receiving an influenza vaccination for the first time (NCIRS 2015). Refer onto GP for vaccination.
Q. Can the vaccination cause Febrile convulsions?
A. The rate of febrile convulsions is less than 1 per 1000. In 2010 Fluvax was associated with an increased rate of febrile convulsions in children less than 5 years and is no longer registered for use in this age group. There is no increased risk of fever or febrile convulsions following administration of Influvac which can be administered from 6 months of age upwards (NCIRS 2015).
Q. Can I have the vaccination if I feel unwell?
A. Influvac may be given in the presence of minor illness with or without fever (Influvac PI).
Q: I need more information
A: come into your local Cincotta Discount Chemist and ask your pharmacist.