Staff across Mackay Hospital and Health Service are rolling up their sleeves for the annual Influenza vaccine to protect themselves, patients and community this Influenza season.
Mackay Hospital and Health Service Infection Prevention & Management Clinical Nurse Consultant Jenny Seymour said the health service is once again supporting Queensland Health’s Influenza vaccination campaign and had already immunised 75% of its health workforce.
“Each year, staff are offered a free Influenza vaccination to help protect not only our most vulnerable patients but each other,” Ms Seymour said.
“Vaccination is the single best protection against Influenza, by building immunity to the virus and helping to prevent transmission of the virus to other people.
“The timing of the vaccination aims to achieve the highest level of defence during Influenza season in Queensland, which is typically June to September, with the peak historically in August.”
Influenza is a highly contagious and potentially serious disease that can be spread through coughing and sneezing.
Ms Seymour said Influenza was not the same as a common cold, and could be a serious illness.
“Sadly, we know the flu can be deadly, and now more than ever it’s important we do everything possible to reduce the risk of contracting Influenza,” she said.
“For some people, such as young children, the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, Influenza can cause serious complications requiring hospitalisation and can sometimes lead to death.”
Each year, a new vaccine is produced to cover strains that are predicted to be circulating in the coming Influenza season.
“This year will see the addition of a new A and B type strains for the southern hemisphere Influenza vaccine.
“It’s important to act now because it takes approximately two weeks for the vaccine to become effective.”
Queensland Health funds free Influenza vaccines under the National Immunisation Program for the following groups due to their increased risk of complications from Influenza:
• pregnant women during any stage of pregnancy
• persons 65 years of age or older
• children 6 months of age to less than 5 years
• Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander aged 6 months and older
• People six months of age or older who have certain medical conditions which increase the risk of Influenza disease complications.
All other Queenslanders can obtain the Influenza vaccination from their doctor, immunisation provider or some community pharmacies.
“Women who acquire Influenza during pregnancy have an increased risk of severe illness. Vaccination protects the mother and their infant/s from Influenza in early infancy,” MS Seymour said
So far this year Queensland Health laboratories have confirmed 5782 cases of Influenza in Queensland, with Mackay HHS reporting 173 confirmed cases year to date.
“If you are sick stay home. Remember the importance of covering your cough or sneeze, and washing your hands.
“We urge everyone to get their vaccination to help beat the Influenza bug this winter – it could save your life.”