Flu vaccines: Getting the timing right

Amanda Lyons

13/03/2018 5:23:17 PM

The RACGP has warned that not only is it unnecessary for patients to receive early flu vaccinations, doing so may result in poorer health outcomes.

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RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel is concerned some flu vaccine providers may be encouraging people to seek injections too early.

‘Urging patients to receive their flu vaccination too early in the year may put them at serious risk,’ RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel said.
‘The last thing we want to see this year is patients doing the right thing and receiving a flu vaccination, but the efficacy of that vaccination wearing off by the time we reach flu season.’
Recent evidence suggests that protection following flu vaccination may begin to wear off after three to four months, with the jab losing effectiveness by 6–11% per month.
Because ‘flu season’ typically affects Australia from June–September, peaking in August, May is considered the best injection month for patients to receive maximum coverage from their vaccines. But 2018 influenza vaccines will be available from mid-April, and Dr Seidel is concerned that some vaccine providers may be encouraging people to seek injections early. However, he believes that GPs’ knowledge of issues such as the need to time vaccinations correctly is what makes them the best-placed health professionals to deliver the injections.
‘Australians should speak to their GP about timing of influenza vaccination that suits their individual needs and circumstances,’ Dr Seidel said.
‘Specialist GPs are up-to-date on when the flu season will affect Australian patients and will continue to offer vaccinations throughout the flu season.’

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