Patients warned against early flu shot

Matt Woodley

28/03/2019 2:07:08 PM

RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon has urged patients to speak with their doctor before a flu shot to ensure the timing is effective.

Dr Harry Nespolon
Patients who receive incorrect advice are at risk of getting vaccinated too early.

Dr Harry Nespolon said Australians need to be aware that the timing of the influenza vaccination is critical to getting the highest level of protection when the flu season commences.
‘Urging people to receive their flu vaccination too early in the year may not actually cover them for the flu season, and put them at risk,’ Dr Nespolon said.
‘We do not want to see patients who are doing the right thing in receiving a flu vaccination, getting the wrong advice and getting it too early and seeing the vaccination lose effectiveness by the time we reach the peak of the flu season.’
Australia has had a record number of influenza cases over summer, with nearly 20,000 laboratory confirmed cases so far this year. Despite this, Dr Nespolon said there is no rush for patients to receive a flu vaccination just yet.
‘Typically, flu season affects Australia from June to September, with the peak being August,’ Dr Nespolon said.
‘Recent evidence suggests that protection following flu vaccination may begin to wear off after three to four months, so timing of the vaccination is critical to make sure you are not unprotected at the end of the season.
‘Holding off from vaccination until mid-April would actually be more beneficial for most patients, as opposed to rushing out to get their vaccination as soon as possible.’
Dr Nespolon added that specialist GPs are best placed to advise patients on when to get vaccinated in order to achieve the highest level of protection based on their individual circumstances.

Influenza vaccinations

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Dr Peter j Strickland   29/03/2019 11:32:34 AM

This is the best piece of genuine advice by the RACGP/newsGP so far in 2019, and without political bias, and some actual sensible science.

Dr Jan Sheringham   30/03/2019 8:20:42 AM

I must admit to some confusion on this issue, especially as it relates to our aim of protecting the more vulnerable at risk patients. In view of the much higher than normal confirmed cases across the country now, is this not a flu season where we might recommend EARLY PLUS BOOSTER doses for this group of patients?

Dr Ian Mark Light   30/03/2019 1:27:09 PM

The value of a booster dose ought be investigated .
The were recommendations in the 1980’s - 1990’s to give booster doses in the nursing home elderly and immunoppressed .

A Patient   4/04/2019 12:05:30 PM

The flu season has struck early this year, as per media reports, due to travellers from the northern hemisphere bringing their winter flu virus with them. This suggests there may be a benefit to receiving an 'earlier' flu shot in 2019.

On a related issue, getting my flu shot from the local chemist is a lot cheaper than from my non-bulk billing GP and I will continue to do this. It is not financially or temporally beneficial for a healthy person to attend a GP for a flu shot.