Parkes residents encouraged to get annual flu shot now

JABBED: Kerriean and Roger Hood (front) received their annual flu shots last week. They are pictured with Ochre Medical Centre staff Michaela Blockely-Ireland, Doctors Viraj Liyange, Neeraj Uprety and David Harwood, and Caroline Kennedy.
JABBED: Kerriean and Roger Hood (front) received their annual flu shots last week. They are pictured with Ochre Medical Centre staff Michaela Blockely-Ireland, Doctors Viraj Liyange, Neeraj Uprety and David Harwood, and Caroline Kennedy.

It's that time of year again and Ochre Medical Centre in Parkes is encouraging patients to take advantage of the seasonal influenza vaccines now available at the surgery.

The surgery's Nurse Coordinator Caroline Kennedy said people should get the flu shot every year because not only is the flu virus constantly changing, but there is always the risk of a severe outbreak of influenza.

"Every year composition of the vaccine changes to match the flu virus, so it protects against the flu strains which are most likely to be around during that winter," she said.

Caroline said there is also a common misconception that you can get the flu from the vaccine.

"There is no live virus in the vaccine, so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot."

The influenza vaccine is available for eligible people at no cost through the federal government-funded National Immunisation Program (NIP).

Through the NIP, pregnant women; people aged 65 years and over; all aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged six months and over; and people aged six months and over with medical conditions predisposing them to severe influenza are all elligible to receive a free seasonal flu vaccine.

According to government figures 75 per cent of influenza-associated deaths in 2018 occurred in people over the age of 65.

"An enhanced vaccine is available again this year for people in the over 65 age bracket," Caroline said.

"Pregnant women can receive their free vaccine at any stage of their pregnancy to protect themselves and their unborn baby or babies."

A record 11 million Aussies got a flu jab in 2018.