Pharmacists are calling on the Hastings community to book in for a flu shot

FLU SEASON: Pharmacist Judy Plunkett gives Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams her flu vaccine. Photo: Ivan Sajko.
FLU SEASON: Pharmacist Judy Plunkett gives Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams her flu vaccine. Photo: Ivan Sajko.

As flu season is now upon us, pharmacists are advising everyone now is the time to organise your flu shot.

Port Macquarie pharmacist Judy Plunkett said as we move into autumn, now is the perfect time to organise a trip to get your flu vaccine.

“Most people are aware that the last flu season we had was quite significant and very severe so it is important that people get their flu vaccine as soon as possible,” Ms Plunkett said.

“There is some false information out there regarding when is the best time to get the vaccine, but it takes two weeks for it to get into your system so now is the right time to organise your appointment.”

Last year was the first year that pharmacists across Australia were able to administer flu vaccinations in community pharmacies.

Ms Plunkett said for people wanting the vaccine it no longer means a trip to the doctor but rather you can go straight to the pharmacy.

“Most people think they will be fine and won’t get sick, but it is definitely not the case and the more people who get the vaccine the better for everyone in the community,” she said.

“These days you do not even need to go to the trouble of booking a doctors appointment because pharmacists are now able to administer the vaccine.”

According to the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, the 2017 flu season saw more than 230,000 confirmed cases of the disease with a higher than normal mortality rate attributed to the flu.

The deaths were primarily among older people but also disturbingly a number of younger Australians died, including a three-year-old child and a young mother.

The high rate of people contracting the flu can be reduced through vaccinations and there is little doubt the numbers would have been higher this year if not for the availability of pharmacist-delivered vaccinations in community pharmacies.

National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, George Tambassis, said the service had been warmly accepted by consumers.

“A survey of patients earlier in the year showed more than seven million Australians aged 18 to 64 years planned to have a flu shot last year,” Mr Tambassis said.

“This research also showed that more than six million Australians were more likely to have a flu shot if it could be administered at a local pharmacy, including two million who previously had no intention to vaccinate against the flu.

“That meant that potentially two million people who without the accessibility of vaccinations being given by their community pharmacy would have been openly vulnerable to the disease.”

By being vaccinated, you not only protect yourself, but also those around you who are unable to be vaccinated or at a higher risk of complications if they caught the flu, such as the elderly, babies and young children.

People with poor immune systems or a chronic illness and those with pre-existing respiratory, heart conditions or diabetes are especially at risk.

“It is recommended that everyone over the age of six months should be vaccinated against the flu,” he said.

“It is now easier than ever and the accessibility of your community pharmacy means more and more people can be vaccinated quickly and easily.

“One of the great benefits of being able to get your vaccination in your pharmacy is that we have found it results in a large number of people getting immunised for the first time.

“In the past they have not had the time to go through the whole process but now just walking into their pharmacy makes it easy so they are protected against the virus for the first time.”