Australia is in the “unenviable” situation of having to deal with COVID-19 at the same time as the onset of flu season, says George Tambassis
Additional supplies of this year’s flu vaccine ordered by the Federal Government are now available through community pharmacies, which earlier this year experienced shortages, confirms the Guild.
National President of the Pharmacy Guild George Tambassis has urged all Australians to make sure they had the flu shot.
“The easing of COVID-19 restrictions has reinforced the need for Australians to be vaccinated against the flu,” said Mr Tambassis in the latest Forefront.
“The ongoing COVID-19 crisis highlights how critical it is to remain as healthy as possible to have a stronger resistance to catching it, or to recover quickly if you do catch it,” he said.
“Australia is in the unenviable situation of having to deal with the crisis at a time of the year when we usually face the onset of the flu season.”
Mr Tambassis said the need to be immunised against the flu was not something to be taken lightly.
“The flu is a virus which affects the respiratory tract and is usually worse in the winter months. The main symptoms are tiredness, fever, chills, headache, cough, sneezing and runny nose, and muscle aches.
“For some people, catching the flu can be life-threatening.
“By being vaccinated, you not only protect yourself, but also those around you who are unable to be vaccinated, or who are at a higher risk of complications if they caught the flu, such as the elderly, babies and young children.
“People with poor immune systems or a chronic illness, and those with respiratory and/or heart conditions or diabetes are especially at risk.
“I urge everyone to ask their community pharmacy about getting the flu vax as soon as possible.”
According to the TGA, the following six influenza vaccines are available for use in Australia for the 2020 influenza season:
6 months and over
6 months and over
6 months and over
3 years and over
5 years and over
65 years and over
More people than ever have been receiving their flu vaccination in community pharmacies.
Statistics from MedAdvisor reveal that in April, there was an increase of more than 300% for flu vaccinations administered in pharmacies compared with the same time last year.
This year Australians got their flu shot earlier than the regular peak demand month which is usually May.
However May and June have also seen higher vaccination rates compared to the same time last year.
MedAdvisor CEO Robert Read told AJP: “With over half-a-million flu vaccinations this year, in an environment where more people are accessing their healthcare practitioners digitally, these numbers highlight the important role that pharmacists play in frontline care.
“COVID-19 continues to disrupt the way healthcare is delivered and we will continue to ensure patients and providers are supported with the best technology to deliver high quality care.”
The effectiveness of the influenza vaccine varies among different people and in different years.
In general, influenza vaccine effectiveness has been found to vary between 30-60%, explains the Department of Health.
That is, on average, a vaccinated person is 30-60% less likely to experience the outcome being measured, for example, influenza leading to attendance at a general practice or hospitalisation, than an unvaccinated person.
The estimated effectiveness of the vaccine may depend on a number of factors – the outcome being measured, the age group predominantly affected (vaccine effectiveness is generally lower in older people than in younger adults and children), and the match between vaccine and circulating influenza strains.