Avoid The Winter Flu Blues

The latest flu strains are heading our way, but thankfully so are the latest vaccines for influenza, as well as those for pneumococcal infections (such as pneumonia and meningitis). The Australian Government is once again making these vaccines available for free to all Aboriginal Medical Services, GPs and community health centres – so if the following applies to you, go get them!

Vibe readers might know that it’s important for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to get these vaccines, but not all of you might realise that many younger Indigenous adults have a range of medical conditions that puts them at risk also from these diseases.

Basically, if you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and aged between 15 and 49 years, you should get these free shots if you have any of the following:

  • You have heart, lung or kidney disease, severe asthma or diabetes;
  • You have an immune-lowering condition such as HIV infection or cancer; or
  • You drink heavily.

    Another change is that adult smokers should now get the pneumococcal vaccine. There’s strong evidence that smoking tobacco puts you at greater risk of pneumonia or meningitis than anything else – even diabetes or heavy alcohol consumption! So if you smoke – make sure you get that pneumo needle! Note that if you live in the Northern Territory, all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are recommended for pneumo vaccination.

    And if you are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, then make sure you talk to your doctor, health worker or nurse about your immunisation needs.

    Watch out for our new poster around the place. But most of all, get yourself immunised now before flu or worse gets you!

    More information on the program is available from the Immunisation Infoline on 1800 671 811, or visit the Immunise Australia website at http://immunise.health.gov.au/

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