The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has today urged patients to get their influenza vaccination from their GP earlier than usual to reduce strain on the health system caused by COVID-19.
RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon said with COVID-19 spreading across Australia, this year it was more important than ever for people to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“Protecting yourself and your family from the flu with a vaccination now will help reduce the strain on health resources from COVID-19. If people don’t get vaccinated and an increasing number of flu patients and COVID-19 patients require urgent healthcare, lives will be put at risk.”
“In a normal flu season, the RACGP advises people to wait until May to receive their flu vaccination, but with the spread of COVID-19, this is not a normal season. The last thing we want to see is patients infected with both influenza and COVID-19,” said Dr Nespolon.
The RACGP is advising people to call their GP to discuss getting their flu vaccine as soon as possible.
Dr Nespolon said patients should speak to their GP to discuss the right flu vaccine for their age group.
“Older people, aged over 65 years, are advised to wait for a special flu vaccine for their more at-risk age group that provides enhanced immunogenicity. Patients will be able to get the special the Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine (QIV) from their GP from mid-April.”
The RACGP President said it was important that people go to their GP for vaccinations and call ahead before visiting.
“Your GP is best placed to deliver your flu vaccination, as you will get continuity of care in a setting where staff are medically training in the rare event of an emergency.
“People need to call their GP to discuss getting their flu vaccination and plan their visit. This is important as it allows clinic staff to make sure patients don’t have any flu or COVID-19 symptoms before coming to the clinic, to ensure the safety of other patients, as well as GPs and staff.”
“GPs are at the frontline and our priority is stopping the spread of this virus and reducing unnecessary exposure for patients, GPs and everyone else in the clinic. Practices have infection control processes in place but patients need to do their bit – that’s why you must always call ahead, don’t just drop in.”
Important flu vaccination information
· Call your GP to discuss getting your flu vaccine as soon as possible
· Receive the right flu vaccination for your age: People under 65 should see their GP for a vaccination as soon as possible. Those over 65 are advised to get a special vaccination from their GP available mid-April.
· From 1 May 2020, you must have your influenza vaccination in order to visit an aged care facility.