Warning on danger month for flu

We’re almost halfway through winter, but if you haven’t had the cold or flu yet – don’t get too cocky – we still haven’t hit the danger month.

Data shows that August is that month.

Flutracking, an online data collection website run out of the University of Newcastle and backed by Federal Government health bodies, shows that in the past five years, the flu season hits its peak in August.

Last year, the incidence of fever, cough and work absences among the 33,000-plus participants jumped from 1.6 per cent in late July to 2.7 per cent in late August.

Flutracking is a voluntary online survey that asks participants about their cold and flu symptoms on a weekly basis.

On Wednesday, 32,641 responses were received from across Australia. Fever and coughs were reported by 1.8 per cent of vaccinated participants and 2.2 per cent of those who were unvaccinated. Fever, coughs and absence from normal duties were reported by 1.1 per cent of vaccinated participants and 1.4 per cent of those unvaccinated.

Of those who responded this week, 67.4 per cent had received the seasonal vaccine and of the 5573 participants who said they worked face-to-face with patients, 82.7 per cent had received the vaccine.

To participate in the weekly surveys or to access the reports, go to the Flutracker website.

Earlier this month, Nine News reported that more than 800,000 flus hots were headed for Australia to boost stocks.

Last year saw the highest levels of reported cases of flu in Australia since the 2009 swine flu pandemic. Visits to hospitals by patients with flu symptoms soared 50 per cent, with more than 221,000 flu infections reccannot catch the flu from the orded around the nation – the highest ever. Many of those who felt sick already had a flu shot.

This year for the first time, people aged over 65 have been offered two flu vaccines that are claimed to be especially effective for them. The are Fluzone High Dose by Sanofi-Aventis and Fluad by Seqirus.

Medical authorities emphasise that you cannot catch the flu from the vaccine and apart from some local soreness at the point of injection, it will not make you sick. Some people may experience a few temporary side-effects, such as nausea, headache, fever or muscle aches, but these usually settle after a few days.

Anyone aged over 65, as well as people with severe asthma, lung or heart disease, low immunity or diabetes can get their jabs for free. For others, it generally costs less than $25.

Are you a participant on the Flutracking website? Have you been vaccinated? Have you avoided and colds or flue so far this winter?

Written by Janelle Ward

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