Influenza (the flu) has made news in recent years after a particularly deadly season in 2017 claimed the lives of over 1,000 Australians.
Here’s why you should be getting vaccinated again this year, as well as how to tell the difference between the flu and a common cold.
Get your flu shot
As the cooler weather rolls in, it’s flu shot time again – and we don’t need to remind you how important it is to protect yourself and your family against this illness.
At Family Doctors Plus, we’re running a dedicated flu clinic, so that you can get your flu shot quickly and easily:
Flu Shot Appointments
Getting vaccinated every year is important because:
- the most common strains of the flu virus change every year, so the vaccines are updated annually
- the effectiveness of the vaccine wanes over time
- you help to protect other people, including those who are too sick or too young to be vaccinated, as well as vulnerable groups such as babies, over-65s and pregnant women
- the more people who are vaccinated in the community, the less likely the flu will spread.
A cold or the flu?
When people say they’ve got the flu, often what they’re actually referring to is a common cold. There are distinct differences between the two – not least of which is that the flu can lead to serious complications.
Here’s a quick comparison of the two illnesses.
- There are over 200 different viruses that can cause a cold. These viruses affect the nose, throat and upper airways.
- The flu is usually caused by type A or B influenza viruses. These infect the upper airways and lungs.
- A cold is likely to last a few days, although it can persist for up to 10 days and you could have a cough that lingers for a few weeks.
- The flu can last 10-14 days.
- Colds and flu are spread by tiny droplets when people cough, sneeze or talk. Touching surfaces contaminated by these droplets (such as keyboards and door handles) or kissing or shaking hands with an infected person can pass the virus to you.
- People with colds or flu can be contagious about a day before they show any symptoms, and they remain contagious while they are ill.
- The most common symptoms of a cold are a blocked or runny nose, watery eyes and a sore throat accompanied by coughing and sneezing. You feel generally unwell.
- Flu symptoms come on faster and include fever, fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, cough, shivering and feeling hot and cold. Those, particularly at risk of flu complications requiring hospitalisation, are young children, the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions.
Queensland Health provides the below table online, along with further details about flu.
Please see your doctor if you have questions about the flu vaccination or are unwell. This is general advice and we always suggest you see your doctor for individual advice.