Medical Professionals Online

College Of GPs Prepares For Flu Season, Australia

August 31, 2017

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is urging the public to prepare for the annual influenza season as winter approaches by receiving the seasonal influenza vaccine.

RACGP President and NSW GP Dr Chris Mitchell said that influenza is a vaccine preventable disease that can have a huge impact on the population and on our health system.

"Approximately 2,500 Australians die from influenza or influenza related illness per year.

"Flu vaccinations are the single most effective action in helping fight the spread of influenza in the community. If patients have received the pandemic H1N1 vaccination, they also need to receive the seasonal vaccination to ensure full protection from the three circulating seasonal viruses. It is expected that the H1N1 virus (swine flu) will be the predominant strain circulating this year," he said.

"GPs are in the best position to limit influenza by providing influenza vaccine to all those eligible under the National Immunisation Program, and by promoting influenza vaccine to all other Australians," said Dr Michael Crampton, RACGP representative on the National Immunisation Committee and GP in Windsor, NSW.

The expanded eligibility for the free seasonal influenza vaccine now includes anyone 65 years and over, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over, all pregnant women and all those 6 months of age and over with medical conditions including heart disease, chronic respiratory conditions, chronic illness requiring medical follow-up or hospitalisation in the past year, impaired immunity and diseases of the neuromuscular system.

The RACGP recommends that individuals follow the below guidelines to limit the spreading of the influenza virus:

- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the bin after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you get sick with influenza, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth as germs spread this way.

Fact sheets and brochures are available here.

Practice posters to reinforce the message can be found here.

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners