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9 July 2014

Time to get vaccinated as flu season picks up

Western Australians being reminded that it's not too late to get the influenza vaccine with the flu season yet to peak.

Dr Paul Effler from WA Health's Communicable Disease Control said the number of influenza cases is beginning to rise, signalling that flu season will likely be upon us in the next few weeks.

"The Eastern states have already seen a higher number of cases than at the same time last year and here visits to GPs for flu illness are rising," Dr Effler said.

"These warning signs are a reminder for people who want to be protected that they should get the vaccine sooner rather than later as it can take up to two weeks for the body to build up good immunity.

"The protection from the flu vaccine lasts about a year, so even if you were vaccinated last year you'll need to have it again to remain protected."

Symptoms of flu include fever, cough, sore throat, headache, chills, muscle aches, tiredness and vomiting. In severe cases, it can result in complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia and can lead to hospitalisation—or even death.

"Influenza can be a serious illness, particularly for the elderly, pregnant women and persons with underlying medical conditions. People in these groups should take advantage of the opportunity to protect themselves by getting vaccinated now," Dr Effler said.

Parents are also being encouraged to get their young children immunised against flu. Children who catch influenza can develop serious complications including high fever, convulsions, and pneumonia.

The vaccine is free to a number of eligible at-risk groups including young children, Aboriginal people aged 15 years and older, pregnant women, people aged 65 years and older and those with chronic medical conditions.

Some private providers may charge a fee to administer the flu vaccine and people are advised to discuss this with their doctor or immunisation clinic when making an appointment.

Media contact: (08) 9222 4333

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