Don’t let flu catch you in 2023: What you need to know about the upcoming flu season
With the 2023 flu season almost upon us, read on to learn what to expect, how best to protect yourself and why it’s especially important to get an influenza vaccine if you’re an older Australian.
Expect the unexpected
Flu is unpredictable. The circulating virus changes every year and protection from influenza vaccines wanes, so it’s best to be protected and get an updated vaccine each year before peak flu season (typically between June and September), as advised by the Australian Department of Health. The recent northern hemisphere winter saw multiple viruses circulating, not only was there flu, but there was also COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
2023 could see a resurgence in flu, so it’s important to take steps to protect yourself with influenza vaccination and good hygiene practices. See our 5 tips on how to protect you and your loved ones from the flu at the end of the article.
"Annual vaccination remains our best protection against contracting influenza, spreading influenza, preventing disease related complications, including hospitalisation and death." -Dr Sarah Chu, General Practitioner, Turbot St Medical Centre Brisbane
Flu can disrupt your life
From ruining a holiday or missing days of work to developing a complication and ending up in hospital, there are many ways flu can disrupt your life. It’s important to remember that influenza is not just a respiratory infection, it can affect your whole body and various organs.
Why vaccination matters if you’re 60+ years old
Everyone aged 6 months and older is recommended to receive an annual influenza vaccine by the Australian Department of Health. But it’s especially important that older Australians protect themselves from flu, due to their greater risk of catching the flu and experiencing serious complications such as pneumonia, heart attack and stroke:
The risk of heart attack and stroke is increased in the days after flu infection
Recent flu infection can cause an increase in the risk of pneumonia
Catching the flu may also increase the risk of hospitalisation in people with chronic
conditions such as diabetes and asthma
Did you know that there are different influenza vaccines available depending on your age? Ask your healthcare professional about your vaccine options
5 tips to protect you and your loved ones from the flu
Annual vaccination is the most important measure to prevent influenza and its complications. It is recommended for all people ≥6 months of age.
Wash your hands frequently and dry them properly.
Avoid people who are sneezing or coughing.
Use a tissue to sneeze or coughinto and throw it out immediately afterwards.
Stay home if you’re feeling unwell.
Flu can disrupt your life. Speak to your GP, pharmacist or nurse about fluprevention
Sources & Citations
Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care. Australian Immunisation Handbook. Influenza (flu). Available at: https://immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au/contents/vaccinepreventable-diseases/influenza-flu. Accessed March 2023
National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS). Influenza vaccinations for Australians, March 2023. Available at: https://ncirs.org.au/sites/default/files/2023-03/Influenza-fact-sheet_Mar_2023_update_FINAL.pdf. Accessed March 2023.
Vukasin F. Chance of early flu season in 2023. News GP, 23 January 2023. Available at: https://www1.racgp.org.au/newsgp/clinical/chance-of-early-flu-season-in-2023. Accessed March 2023.
Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). Statement on the administration of seasonal influenza vaccines in 2023. Available at: https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-03/atagi-advice-on-seasonal-influenza-vaccines-in-2023.pdf. Accessed March 2023.
World Health Organisation (WHO). Influenza (Seasonal). Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/influenza-(seasonal). Accessed March 2023.
McElhaney JE et al. Immun Ageing 2020:17:10.
DiazGranados CA et al. N Engl J Med 2014;371(7):635–45.
Warren-Gash C et al. Eur Respir J 2018;51(3):1701794.
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