To Vaccinate Or Not To Vaccinate?

Oh Melbourne,
Thank you for finally giving me cold weather, so I can put on my scarf, beanie and gloves and get some reprieve from the Saharan like Australian sun. But now that winter is coming, so is the chance you’ll see more of tissues, paracetamol and cough lollies. It’s now time to ask: “should I get a flu vaccine?”

Protecting yourself from the flu isn’t one of those topics that commonly come up in conversation. Really, can you see yourself walking up to somebody in a club and saying, “Hey, you know that flu vaccine? It’s pretty good, yeah!’” But really, it should be something we talk about. We start to feel run down, especially with looming assignment deadlines and this begins to compromise our immune systems. But what is the difference between the common cold and the flu? And is it really necessary to get vaccinated?

The common cold is usually characterised by a runny nose, sore throat and slight fatigue. But, the flu (Influenza) has a more severe symptomology. Sufferers experience fluctuations in body temperature, mild nausea, vomiting, extreme exhaustion, headaches, muscle aches and a sore throat. Often these symptoms can last for 4-5 days and it can be difficult to get back into a normal routine following a bout of the infection.

Spread by small droplets via the nose, throat or mouth (a consequence of making out on the dance floor!) the flu virus is easily transferrable and highly contagious. Symptoms often arise within 48 hours of contraction and and the severity of symptoms may vary across people. A person is contagious one day before symptoms arise and three to seven days after symptoms begin.

The vaccine works by triggering the body to produce its own antibodies against three different strains of influenza. Each year, new strands emerge so the vaccine’s composition must be changed in order to best defend the body against the virus. Often the National Health and Medical Research Council advise people in risk categories (the elderly, people with chronic cardiac disorders and low immunity and people working in health professions who may be in contact with sick people) to get the Influvax vaccine; however people who do not fit in these categories can also benefit from the vaccine, as it reduces the possibility of catching it. Protection against infection begins about 2-3 weeks after vaccination, and will last about 6-12 months.

If you want to keep partying hard all through semester and during semester break with no issues contact your local doctor, pharmacist or go to the doctors on campus. You will need to attend a free doctors appointment, where they will see if you’re eligible to get vaccinated and then you’ll need to book a nurses appointment for the vaccination which costs $19. A small price to pay to avoid the onslaught of the flu.

Clayton Monash Medical Centre
Campus centre (next to STA)
Ph: 9905 3175

Cat Poiani-Cordella

The author Cat Poiani-Cordella

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