Listen: TerryWhite Chemart chief pharmacist Brenton Hart says influenza still needs to be taken seriously in this COVID-centric era
Ordinarily at this time of year, cases of seasonal influenza are beginning to pop up and people are deciding whether or not to get the current flu vaccine. Although, with COVID dominating much of the headlines, it seems this time round many of us are disinterested in protecting ourselves against the more common flu virus.
A recent study commissioned by TerryWhite Chemart found that 59 per cent of adults aged 18-29 years and 61 per cent of those aged between 30–49 years said they planned on getting an influenza vaccination, contrasted with three-quarters of both age groups saying they would get a COVID-19 vaccination once it’s available to them.
Chief pharmacist Brenton Hart said that while we’re more familiar with influenza, it’s still a virus that needs to be taken seriously.
“It’s important for everyone to remember that influenza is still a really serious condition that can cause really nasty symptoms, and it can be deadly,” Brenton told Hope 103.2.
“It kills between 1500-3000 Australians every year.”
The symptoms of influenza are very similar to COVID-19, Brenton said.
“Because they’re both respiratory track infections. There’s a lot of overlap between the two.
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“So another important message for everyone is to make sure you’re still committed to getting your COVID test whenever you get any respiratory symptoms.”
Brenton also stresses the COVID-19 vaccine won’t protect against influenza.
“They’re two very separate vaccines and two very separate diseases caused by different viruses, so it’s important we plan to get both of those vaccines.”
“It doesn’t matter whether you get your COVID or your flu vaccine first,” he said.
“It just depends on the eligibility you have for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The current recommendations are, if you’re in the early stages of the COVID-19 [vaccine rollout] definitely prioritise your COVID-19 jab.
“If you’re in any other phase [of the rollout] beyond 1b, the current recommendation is to go out and get your flu vaccine now because it’s available, and it will kick in and start working before we get to the peak of the flu season, which comes through June to September in most years.”
The information provided in this article in general in nature. Please speak to your GP for advice specific to your situation.