Health organisations urge Wimmera residents to have flu shots

GRAMPIANS Medicare Local has urged people to have a flu vaccination after a new report found more than 60 per cent of adults were unprotected.

An Influenza Specialist Group survey shows 67 per cent of Australians aged 35 to 49 do not consider getting a flu vaccination.

It also showed 95 per cent of Australians aged 35 to 49 had experienced flu-like symptoms in the past, but more than half had never had a flu vaccine.

But a Grampians Medicare Local spokeswoman said flu immunisation sessions in the Wimmera had been busy.

"There are many options for the community to obtain advice about or receive their flu shot," she said.

"They can speak with their GP, nurse, pharmacist or local government immunisation service."

She said Grampians Medicare Local encouraged businesses to promote flu vaccination with their employees.

"Businesses could arrange for a flu clinic at their work place. This would be a proactive move and lower absentee figures," she said.

The spokeswoman said influenza was highly contagious and caused by a virus.

"The virus can spread through people coughing and sneezing as well as by touching infected surfaces," she said. "It is different from a cold and symptoms include fever, dry cough, muscle aches and pains, fatigue, headache, sore throat and a stuffy or runny nose.

"Complications of influenza include bronchitis, croup, pneumonia and cardiovascular complications."

Free influenza vaccines are available in the Wimmera for all people aged 65 and older, for Aboriginals and Torres Straight Islanders aged 15 years and older, for all pregnant women and for anyone who is older than six months and has a medical condition that could lead to severe influenza.

Influenza Specialist Group chairman Alan Hampson said many adults believed they were at low risk of contracting the virus and therefore did not require a vaccination.

"There are between 1500 and 2500 influenza-related deaths each year in Australia," he said.

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