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Rush now on for flu shots

Have you had the flu?
Have you had the flu? Inga Williams

MEDICAL centres across Brisbane and Ipswich are being swamped as people rush to get immunised ahead of flu season.

All Care Inala Medical Centre doctor Michael Ho said flu shots were becoming more popular each year.

"Flu seasons tends to begin in late March early April to June," he said.

"More and more people are opting to get vaccinations because they are promoted well within the community."

The Mt Ommaney resident, who has been a doctor for 15 years, recommended people considered flu immunizations.

"It is particularly important for elderly people to be immunized because their immune system is already not at its best," he said.

"This is also the case for people who have chronic medical conditions like diabetes, severe asthma, or heart disease.

"With their current condition, if they catch the flu they can end up with a worse outcome."

Dr Ho also advised carers or heath care workers to be immunized to protect the patients they look after.

However he said vaccinations were not recommended for healthy children.

"Their immune system should be strong enough to fight it - and they need to build up their immunity," he said.

Queensland Health statistics show more than 140 cases of influenza have been recorded since January - which is lower than the average number of notifications.

But the State's Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said that was no reason to become complacent about guarding against the virus.

"Influenza is a highly contagious and potentially serious disease that can be spread through coughing and sneezing," Dr Young said.

"As is the case every year, this year's vaccine is based on the virus strains circulating in the northern hemisphere including the influenza A H3N2 strain, influenza A H1N1 and an influenza B strain.

"This reliable and safe vaccine is available to prevent people getting the 'flu."

Anyone over the age of six months who is not severely allergic to vaccine ingredients can be immunised.

"Annual vaccination against influenza reduces the chances of catching the 'flu and the severity of it if you do contract it," Dr Young said.

Queensland health offers free flu vaccinations for the elderly, pregnant women, indigenous people aged over 15 and those at risk due to medical conditions.

Vaccination is available through GPs, Aboriginal medical services and other immunisation providers.

For more information about influenza, how to prevent its spread and vaccination visit www.health.qld.gov.au/flu.


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