# Hit me with your best shot

Influenza virusAs we head in to the 2017 flu season, now is the time employers should be encouraging workers to get the flu shot with the virus traditionally peaking in the month of August. 

As at 17 May, there have been a total of 11,021 laboratory confirmed notifications of Influenza in Australia for 2017, with the most cases currently being reported in Queensland (3,869) closely followed by NSW (3,103). 

The Immunisation Coalition announced the launch of its #HitMeWithYourBestShot campaign on Thursday 6th April 2017 and are urging people to plan ahead and start booking their flu shot to help bring down flu rates across the country to protect themselves and those most at risk. 

In 2016, 90,861 Australians suffered from laboratory confirmed influenza, with many more cases going undiagnosed. These figures only represent the tip of the iceberg but throughout 2016:

  • 10% of influenza patients who had to go to hospital were admitted directly into the ICU;
  • 74% of hospitalised sufferers belonged to the group most at risk of complications from influenza;
  • It is estimated that approximately 2.3 million Australians aged 35-64 have underlying medical conditions that put them at high risk of severe complications from influenza; and
  • Only 36% of people 18-64 years old with underlying medical conditions get the annual flu shot to protect themselves from serious and potentially life threatening complications from influenza;

Protecting your Workplace

The vaccine for this year’s strains is now available. Workplaces should ensure during peak flu periods that sick workers be told to stay home and not spread the disease throughout their workplaces.

Flu viruses in respiratory droplets from a cough or a sneeze can travel up to one metre. Workers should be reminded that protecting themselves also helps to protect anyone more vulnerable who they might be in contact with.

Employers should ensure hygiene standards are high and consider funding a flu vaccination program for employees. The associated cost is likely to be offset by reduced sick-leave and absenteeism. The flu shot is definitely the best way to guard against influenza, but personal hygiene helps a lot.

Personal hygiene prevention measures include:

  • when coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with tissues, and dispose of used tissues in a bin;
  • wash your hands after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose, after coming in contact with someone who has the flu, and before eating and drinking;
  • clean items such as phones or keyboards between users with a detergent wipe;
  • keep your distance from others (at least one metre) if you are coughing or sneezing;
  • stay at home while you are sick, and see your doctor if you are concerned about your symptoms; and
  • clean common area surfaces regularly with detergent and warm water and dry thoroughly.

As at 17 May 2017, there have been a total of 11,021 laboratory confirmed notifications of Influenza in Australia with the breakdown of cases across our States & Territories as follows: 

  • ACT:           85
  • NSW:     3,103
  • NT:            519
  • QLD:      3,869
  • SA:         1,261
  • TAS:          143
  • VIC:        1,492
  • WA:           549

Paul Van Buynder, Chairman of the Immunisation Coalition invited Australians to actively join the campaign by uploading their image on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the hash tag #HitMeWithYourBestShot, bringing awareness to the benefits of being protected and challenging their friends and family to do the same.

For more information please visit https://www.flusmart.org.au or www.immunisationcoalition.org.au
join the conversation at https://www.facebook.com/immunisationcoalition/ and Twitter

Source: Immunisation Coalition 2017 Statistics, 18 May 2017