More than 1000 flu vaccines have been provided to Scone and district residents this year alone in what has been described as one of the worst flu seasons in years.
Unfortunately, this impressive number of vaccinations hasn’t curbed the spread of the potentially-fatal virus that has seen doctors’ waiting rooms swell across the Upper Hunter.
Scone Medical Practice supervisory registered nurse Debbie Phelps said this flu season was one of the worst she had seen.
“We are seeing a lot of young children with flu symptoms and bronchiolitis,” she said.
“The elderly have also been particularly vulnerable this winter.”
Ms Phelps said the winter period was traditionally when the flu virus was at its peak in the community, but the flu vaccination was an excellent preventative
“We encourage people to come in before the flu season starts in March for their flu vaccination, but for some reason not as many people booked to have their needles early this year,” she said.
“As a consequence, we are now seeing more people coming into the surgery with acute flu symptoms.”
Ms Phelps, a nurse for more than 23 years at the Scone Medical Practice, said it was not too late for people to get a flu shot.
“If you have a temperature of over 38.5 degrees, we will not give you a flu vaccine but if you just have a mild cold, then still make an appointment with your local GP,” she said.
“We can even arrange to come out to your place of work and do a group vaccination for any staff at your business who require immunising.”
Hunter New England Population Health public health physician Dr Tony Merritt said the flu season was particularly serious for vulnerable members of the community.
If you are aged over 65, pregnant, have respiratory, heart or kidney health problems or are over the age of 15 and from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent you are considered at greater risk of the flu virus,” he said.
“There is a lot of influenza A activity across the Hunter now, but we traditionally don’t see the virus peak until August.
“If you do contract the virus, stay away from work, school, childcare and visiting people in aged care homes and hospitals.
“If you are sneezing or coughing, you have the potential to spread the virus so make sure you cover your mouth when sneezing, use a tissue and wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.”
Ms Phelps said for most people, treating flu symptoms could be done successfully at home.
“Your pharmacist can help you with a remedy to alleviate the symptoms, but if you have a fever or general malaise it is still best to make an appointment to see your doctor,” she said.
And while you are at it, book yourself in for a flu vaccination – fast.