Flu vaccines are still important

While news surrounding vaccines has been recently dominated by stories related to the Covid-19 vaccine, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) reminds people that that is still important to get your flu vaccine this year.

The flu vaccine is expected to become available this month, and as older and more vulnerable people are likely to be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccination, the RACGP is encouraging younger and healthier people to get the flu vaccine.

“We are dealing with the twin threats of influenza and Covid-19, for which two national vaccination programs will be rolling out at the same time – it’s a lot for our health system to manage, and it’s a lot for patients,” says RACGP President Dr Karen Price, adding that this is why they “are urging patients in the later phases for the Covid-19 vaccine to get their flu shot as soon as it’s available”.

“This will help to minimise the strain on the health system and make the experience easier for patients,” adds Dr Price.

“If you’re young and healthy you might think you should be standing back and waiting for the most vulnerable patients to get their flu shots first.

“In fact, we want these patients to do the opposite. Book an appointment with your GP to get your flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available, then get your Covid-19 vaccine when you can.

“Patients who are more vulnerable, including those who are older, should prioritise getting their Covid-19 vaccine as soon as it is offered to them,” continues Dr Price.

Reportedly, more than 4500 general practices have been approved be vaccine clinics in Phase 1b of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, with more than 1000 commencing from the week of 22 March 2021.

The program is reportedly planned to rapidly scale up and roll out to more practices.

Patients can check their vaccine eligibility and see if their usual general practice is delivering Covid-19 vaccinations in the Government’s Vaccine Eligibility Checker, online at: covid-vaccine.healthdirect.gov.au/

Patients should contact their usual general practice about receiving a flu vaccine when it is available in April.

Many practices will alert patients when flu vaccines are available, and patients should check their usual clinic’s website.

Dr Price adds that if anyone has questions or concerns about either vaccine they should “book an appointment to speak with your GP – we’re here to help”.

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