Protect yourself and others from the flu - Institute for Respiratory Health

Protect yourself and others from the flu

Monday, May 04, 2020 | News

With countries around the globe relaxing self-isolation and lockdown restrictions around the COVID-19 pandemic, a Perth respiratory expert is encouraging more Western Australians to get their flu jab as soon as possible.

Associate Professor Yuben Moodley, Deputy Director of the Institute for Respiratory Health, says: “It’s always important for people to get the flu shot, but it’s particularly important this year as we don’t want anyone to contract the flu during the  COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been promising to see 445,181 Western Australians getting the flu vaccine this season, an increase of 62,550 compared to the same period in 2019 and an increase of 116,117 in 2018.

“Because of this, we’ve actually seen the lowest cases of flu in the state’s history. These positive results are also attributed to the extensive COVID-19 precautions that have been implemented like good hand hygiene and social distancing.”

Clinically both viruses have similar initial symptoms and affect the respiratory system.

Both give you fevers, chills, body aches, sore throat, headaches and a cough.

Both are spread mainly by droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk.

Tests can determine whether it is flu or COVID-19.

Given the potentially serious consequences resulting from infection with the flu virus, Associate Professor Moodley recommends that we should all get our annual flu shot before the start of the season to enable our immune systems to protect us.

Similarly, he advises that Western Australians should not underestimate the seriousness of the flu. “Contact your GP, pharmacist or aged-care provider to arrange a flu shot and, importantly, speak to your GP immediately if you develop flu-like symptoms,” he said.

“The government is even considering a short-term ‘drive through’ flu clinic for community members at risk.”

The flu vaccine is free for pregnant women, people aged 65 and over, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders, those with chronic conditions and all children aged six months to five-years-old.