Time for your annual flu jab

LOCAL residents are urged to take steps to protect their health ahead of the winter flu season by booking in to receive the 2017 flu vaccine.

Public Health Services specialist medical advisor Dr Faline Howes said the flu vaccine was now available to help protect against the four most common flu viruses expected this winter – two A and two B strains.

“You need the flu vaccine each year to be protected because flu immunity is only short-lived and the mix of influenza viruses change each year,” she said.

“Flu season happens every winter, usually starting in June or July, so now’s the time to have your flu vaccine.”

Tasmanian Senator Carol Brown said having her own flu shot at a local community pharmacy highlighted the value of the service.

She said that consumers could be confident about getting their flu shots in a pharmacy, as the pharmacists giving the shot had to undergo special training.

“This ensures they have the knowledge and skills to both deliver the vaccine safely and effectively, as well as being able to identify and treat any possible side effects,” she said.

“Anyone can just come in to a pharmacy which provides this service and organise protection against this year’s flu strain.”

The flu vaccine is available free for Tasmanians at greater risk of severe complications of influenza.

This includes anyone aged 65-years and over, Indigenous people, pregnant women and adults and children from six-months-of-age who have chronic medical conditions such as heart, lung or kidney diseases, diabetes, cancers, impaired immunity and neuromuscular conditions.

The vaccine itself is free for these groups through GPs and other immunisation providers, although GPs may charge for the consultation.

Tasmanians who live or work with people at risk of developing severe flu should also consider getting the vaccine.

For more information, visit www.immunise.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/immunise-influenza.

Caption: From left, Pharmacy Guild branch director Greg Luckman, North Hobart Pharmacy owner Jerry Hampton, Senator Carol Brown and pharmacist Matt Luciani.