General practice the best place to receive flu vaccination: RACGP President

Neelima Choahan

23/04/2018 3:38:06 PM

When English actor Stephen Fry had gone to his GP for a simple flu vaccination, a chat about his health led to tests that revealed he had prostate cancer.

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According to Dr Seidel, flu vaccination in general practice offers the opportunity for a more thorough health discussion. (Image: AAP/Stefan Postles)

RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel told newsGP, ahead of the World Immunization Week, that patients may miss out on the opportunity for a more thorough catch up with their GP if they chose to go elsewhere for their annual flu jab.
‘You often hear people arguing, “It’s actually very simple to give the jab, anybody could do it. It’s a low-value care issue”,’ Dr Seidel said.
‘But … it’s actually not about the jab.
‘It’s about having a discussion about other issues as well: “Why we are doing this, what else is going on with the patient’s lives? Is there anything else we can pick up?”’
Dr Seidel said data showed that GPs used every attendance to investigate their patients’ health needs.
‘There has been some research done based on the BEACH (Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health) study indicating that there is actually no low-value care when it comes to patient attendances to see their GPs, because it is always a value-added approach,’ he said.
There were more than 217,000 confirmed cases of the flu in Australia last year – a massive jump from the 2015 record of 100,000 – with people aged 80 years and older reporting the highest notification rates. The 2017 influenza season was Australia’s most significant since the 2009 pandemic.

Dr Seidel said GPs are also best placed to advise patients on the best timing for the influenza vaccination.
‘We increasingly see that commercial operators are now pushing for very early flu vaccinations,’ he said. ‘One of the things we have realised is that the flu vaccination becomes less effective once it has been given. And we know that the effectiveness reduces between 6–11% per month.
‘There’s an argument for saying, “Have your flu vaccination closer to May, beginning of June because we know it’s just going to be more effective come peak season”.’

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