May the best time to get flu vaccine, says Claremont GP

The flu vaccination being administered. Picture: Stock image
The flu vaccination being administered. Picture: Stock image

May is the best time to get the flu vaccine, according to Dr Susan Cann from GPs on Bayview. She explains why.

WITH the mornings getting darker and winter fast approaching we will likely start hearing about the availability of this year’s flu vaccine and reasons why we should receive it.

This article is going to focus not on the ‘why’ but on the ‘when’ you should receive it.

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Each year the flu virus causes significant morbidity and mortality in the community, spreading quickly and resulting in serious illness, hospitalisations and even deaths.

While specific members of the community are provided with free government funded flu vaccines, everyone is encouraged to consider accessing the flu vaccine and be protected from the flu virus across the winter months.

Recent statistics show that flu season runs from June to September with peak incidence occurring in the month of August.

Evidence suggests that protection following the flu vaccine may begin to wain after 3-4 months, with the vaccine losing effectiveness by 6-11 per cent per month.

This evidence would lead us to believe that the best month to receive your flu vaccine is May.

Any time prior to this can result in reduced levels of immunity and effectiveness during the most critical part of the flu season.

We believe this contributed to a rise in cases on the east coast of Australia in 2017, resulting in one of the worst flu seasons to date.

If, however, you’re concerned you’ve left the vaccine too late, don’t despair; chat to your GP, there may still be value in receiving your vaccine.

The other news for 2018 is the introduction of a new “super antigen” vaccine for those over 65.

It is hoped this will have increased and longer lasting immunity for the three most common strains of influenza and will lead to improved protection for this age group, which is usually the hardest hit.

So don’t be tempted to rush your vaccine – May is the best time to receive the flu vaccine and you can expect excellent protection throughout the flu season until the warm weather returns.

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