This month, our Consumer Health Panel was invited to provide feedback on their experience with influenza (flu) and the flu vaccine.
Responses showed that more than half of the panel have the flu vaccine each year. Thirty percent of those who don’t have the vaccine believe they are healthy and don’t need it. Others thought the vaccine causes illness/side effects, is not effective, costs too much or they have a fear of injections.
Panel members were asked where they have their vaccination and responses included:
It was pleasing that more than 80% of panel members who have had the vaccine find it effective in protecting them against the flu, with the remainder saying it was somewhat effective.
While 6 out of 10 people think those with medical conditions such as severe asthma, lung or heart disease, low immunity or diabetes should have the flu vaccine, half of our panel members believe everyone should have it.
Panel members were also asked what steps they take to avoid getting the flu. While 90% of people said they wash their hands regularly, some indicated they try to eat and sleep right, avoid sick people, exercise for immunity, take vitamins or herbal medicine, or wear a mask if at the doctors surgery.
When asked what steps they take if they do get sick, responses from our panel included:
New South Wales is currently in the midst of its worst flu season on record, with flu patients presenting to the state's emergency departments in greater numbers than ever before according to the latest NSW Health Influenza Surveillance Report.
It’s not too late to have the flu vaccine. In fact, it is recommended for everyone from six months of age, but is available free for people who face a high risk from influenza and its complications – people over 65, people with chronic conditions, pregnant women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (aged 6 months to 5 years and those over 15). The flu is highly contagious and for vulnerable people can be serious, even life threatening.
For more information on influenza, causes, symptoms, prevention and the flu shot visit the Department of Health website. Or to find out about medical options which are available visit the after hours page on our website.
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