As the cold weather begins to set in, Echuca Regional Health has urged community members to consider getting their influenza vaccination as a preventative measure.
ERH’s infection prevention and control manager Lyn Golden said people could be sick with flu for up to three or four weeks, but the symptoms could vary greatly from person to person.
“Catching the flu can lead to dehydration, severe and constant coughing, fatigue, sore muscles, hospitalization, pneumonia or death,” she said.
According to Ms Golden, an average of 2500 Australians die from the flu each year and this year, people have another thing to consider — ‘flu-rona’.
Infectious disease physician Andrew Mahony said ‘flu-rona’ referred to the simultaneous infection of both COVID-19 and influenza.
He explained that cases of flu-rona have been seen around Australia as a result of both viruses circulating at the same time.
“So far, the number of diagnosed flu-rona cases have been small, partly because most of the testing in the community is still very much focused on COVID,” Dr Mahony said.
“We don’t yet know how bad flu-rona is, but there are laboratories which are working on including COVID and influenza tests on the same swab, so we should soon have a better idea about how common flu-rona is, and how severe.”
Dr Mahony said the influenza vaccine could help to reduce the chance of catching flu-rona.
“Influenza case numbers in Victoria this year to date are 70 times higher than last year, so it is looking like an early and big flu season.
“Getting vaccinated now is the best approach in reducing an individual’s risk of flu complications, including flu-rona.
“The flu vaccine generally gives protection for up to six months, so having a vaccine now would carry you through until after the end of the flu season, which is usually around September-October.”
Although Echuca Regional Health does not provide the influenza vaccine to community members, it does provide flu shots to staff and to emergency service staff such as local police officers or volunteers from local fire brigades.
If anyone is interested in booking an influenza vaccination, book in with your local chemist, with Campape Shire or consult your general practitioner for further advice.