With the Covid-19 vaccinations now approved, George Fotinos from Terry White Chemist in West End is urging people to book their annual influenza (flu) vaccination.
Mr Fotinos said that stocks of the usual annual flu vaccination are available and they are taking bookings now.
This year it is important to get your flu vaccination because there needs to be at least 14 days between the flu vaccination and the COVID-19 vaccinations.
Mr Fotinos suggests people make their flu vaccinations a priority.
Terry White Chief Pharmacist Brenton Hart said allowing at least 14 days between the flu vaccination and the COVID vaccination is recommended by The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.
“People should not be lulled into a false sense of complacency about the influenza virus. It is highly infectious, and it is important for people to continue getting vaccinated and to plan now so they can be vaccinated for both the flu and COVID-19 in a timely manner,” Mr Hart said.
“In all cases, the flu vaccination should be given at least 14 days apart from any dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.”
“An annual flu vaccination is the best way to prevent yourself from getting the flu, and from then passing it on to someone else in the community.”
Flu vaccinations are also routinely offered in workplaces and some people may be eligible for the free flu vaccination. Ask your pharmacist, GP, or other immunisation provider to see if you are eligible.
Almost seven million high priority workers, aged care staff and residents will be eligible to receive their first COVID-19 vaccination which started in February. These Australians will receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine which needs to be given in two doses, at least 21 days apart.
Mr Hart said that most other Australians (over 13 million) will qualify to receive their first COVID-19 vaccination from early May, which will be the TGA approved AstraZeneca/University of Oxford vaccine. This vaccine also needs to be given in two doses, four to 12 weeks apart.
“It’s important that people remember the health risks of the influenza virus – an incredibly infectious respiratory disease that can leave people unwell for a week or more, and in the worst cases, result in hospitalisation or death.”
“When planning and scheduling the timing of their vaccinations, we encourage people to seek advice from their immunisation provider and to discuss their personal health circumstances with their GP or pharmacist prior to receiving their vaccinations.”
While protection from a flu vaccination is generally expected to last for the whole flu season, optimal protection against the flu is strongest and most effective three to four months after you are vaccinated.
“The flu season in Australia usually runs from June to September, peaking in August, although it has started earlier than June in some years and can occur year-round.”
“While we may not know yet how the flu seasons are going to evolve on the back of COVID19, a flu vaccination remains a critical component in your arsenal against tackling influenza, “ Mr Hart said.
Queensland Health advises that flu vaccinations given from April, before the peak season takes place, provide the best protection.
George Fotinos said he and other local Chemists have submitted expressions of interest to the Commonwealth Department of Health to deliver the AstraZeneca vaccine to the community when it comes online. Store owners will be informed around mid-March about their applications, but in the meantime staff are being trained in the delivery of the vaccine.
Mr Hart said the training provided to pharmacy staff is the same for General Practitioners and for nurses.
“The training is quite rigorous, which is a good thing, to ensure that we’re delivering a safe professional experience for our patients,” Mr Hart said.
If you are wondering how your GP and Pharmacist will be able to keep track of all vaccinations, the Australian Government has mandated that all COVID-19, flu and other vaccinations administered must be reported to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR)
See the Queensland Department of Health for their guidelines on the 2021 influenza vaccination https://www.health.qld.gov.au/clinical-practice/guidelines-procedures/diseases-infection/immunisation/service-providers/influenza
To find out more about the COVID19 vaccinations see the Department of Health site at this link https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines