Be prepared this flu season

WITH winter less than two months away, the dreaded flu season is imminent and it's time to consider getting vaccinated.

In recent times the ability of the influenza virus to rapidly spread across the globe has been magnified by advances in transport.

Within 24 hours it is now possible for someone who contracted the virus in the Northern Hemisphere to walk through the door of their home in the Clarence Valley and pass the virus on to family and friends.

Anybody can get the flu, but the elderly, indigenous and people with illnesses such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, and small children are more likely to develop complications.

Public Health director for the North and Mid North Coast Paul Corben said now was the time for people to consider getting vaccinated against influenza.

“People often think of the flu as not a very serious virus but it can be very dangerous, particularly to the groups that are highly susceptible to the virus,” he said.

Mr Corben said people over 65 years old and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders 15 years or older were eligible to be vaccinated for free.

“Some pharmacists run vaccination clinics conducted by an immunisation nurse and so do some GPs,” he said.

“People should check with their local chemist or doctor to see if they can get vaccinated there.”

As the peak flu season in the Northern Hemisphere is finishing, Mr Corben said the Australian flu vaccine was developed using recommendations from the World Health Organisation about common flu strains.

This year's vaccine covers the H1N1 virus, Type A influenza, the H3N2 virus and influenza B.

Mr Corben said the best way to prevent the spread of the virus, which can live on surfaces for eight hours and one hour in the air, was to use tissues when coughing or sneezing and wash your hands regularly.

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