Dr Stephanie Hendry at the Townsville University Hospital with the new Flu vaccine for those over 65. Picture: Evan Morgan
Dr Stephanie Hendry at the Townsville University Hospital with the new Flu vaccine for those over 65. Picture: Evan Morgan

New vaccine being fast tracked to save lives

A NEW vaccine has been fast tracked to boost protection against the deadly flu and help save lives.

Townsville University Hospital microbiology registrar Dr Stephanie Hendry said it was the first time four strains have been included in the vaccine for people aged 65 and over.

"As we age we know our immune system slows down and the standard influenza vaccine isn't as effective or protective," she said.

"If you add a special coating to the vaccine and adjuvant it can provide enhanced immunity which is what we want especially for the elderly.

"It's really important to prevent these people from getting influenza and to make sure they've got adequate immune response from the vaccine."


Dr Hendry said the old vaccine that doesn't have this adjuvant, which helps stimulate the immune system, only provided between 30 to 70 per cent protection for elderly people.

The enhanced immunisation is expected to add at least an extra 25 per cent of protection.

"Flu kills people and puts elderly people in hospital and that's what we really want to avoid at the moment," Dr Hendry said.

"They're the people if they get influenza they suffer from it more severely, they get admitted to hospital and they die either from the influenza or from worsening of their other chronic medical conditions.

"It's crucial this year more than ever, we recommend every one over the age of six months get an influenza vaccine but in particular it's those at high risk of contracting any respiratory virus."

Dr Hendry busted the myth people can catch the flu from a vaccine and said it was one of the most commonly asked questions.

"It's not possible because there's no live virus included in the vaccine," she said.

"People will get local side effects which is what we expect and what we want, it's a sign the immune system is reacting to the vaccine.

"We would encourage everyone strongly to get an influenza vaccine this year."

Groups most at risk of being severely impacted by Influenza can receive a free vaccine, this includes: people over the age of 65, pregnant women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged between six months and five years and 15 years and older.

 

Influenza cases by Hospital and Health Service to May 3.

• Townsville 461

• Cairns and Hinterland 275

• Mackay 173

• Central Queensland 223

• Sunshine Coast 367

• Gold Coast 699

 

Laboratory confirmed influenza admissions to public hospitals in Queensland.

Townsville HHS has had 32 hospitalisations in Queensland which is the fourth highest in Queensland behind Metro South (64), Metro North (51) and Gold Coast (33).

 

Originally published as New vaccine being fast tracked to save lives


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