Arm yourself for Winter, by Dr Julie Blaze

April 4, 2024

As we move into the cooler months, it is an important time to prepare yourself and your family members to reduce the risk of illness from respiratory viruses that circulate in the community in late Autumn and Winter.

The big three are Influenza, RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) and Covid-19.

Influenza and RSV cause seasonal epidemics. Symptoms range from mild to severe but those over 65 years are at increased risk of more severe illness. People with medical conditions that lower their immunity, chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic lung disease and cardiac failure as well as pregnant women, infants and people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background are also at increased risk.

Vaccination for influenza are now available at Bulli Medical Practice and are free for people most vulnerable to serious illness from six months of age. A private vaccine can be accessed for a charge of $25. Please book your flu shot with your GP or one of our Practice Nurses (online via Hotdoc or call the practice on 4284 4622). Vaccination shortens and lessens the severity of the illness meaning less time off work and less time sick in bed. Stronger and more effective vaccines (adjuvant vaccines) are now available for certain groups.

A new vaccine is available to fight RSV called Arexvy and is indicated for people over 60 years. At this stage it is not free, and costs around $300 per dose. This will be a significant barrier for a lot of people but hopefully it will become more accessible soon. The RSV vaccine for infants and babies is highly anticipated but not yet available.

Covid-19 infection has never gone away. Currently there are high numbers of infections in our community so please consider if you need a booster.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation recommends a Covid booster for people over 75 years (or at higher risk of severe Covid infection) and six-months duration since their last booster or natural infection. People aged 18 to 74 years should consider a booster depending on their circumstances. Ask your GP at your next appointment about your individual risk.