Free flu help for Intown Centre

Kristin MacfarlaneSouth Western Times
Dr Foster and Associates practice nurse Donna Cowdrey administers a flu shot at the In Town Centre.
Camera IconDr Foster and Associates practice nurse Donna Cowdrey administers a flu shot at the In Town Centre. Credit: Jon Gellweiler / South Western Times

People in the South West are most likely to catch influenza in August or September – and as a way to reduce the number of sufferers in Bunbury – a free vaccination service is being offered to the city’s less fortunate.

Dr Gerard Travers and nurse Donna Cowdrey from Doctor Foster and Associates were on hand at the Intown Centre last Thursday to administer flu vaccinations to clients and staff.

It is a service the medical clinic has offered for six years, with staff donating their time to ensure Bunbury’s less fortunate have more chance of staying healthy during the flu season.

The peak time for people to contract the flu in the South West is between August and September and last year about 80 people required hospitalisation.

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Mrs Cowdrey said 20 people had accessed the service.

“They were all lined up,” Mrs Cowdrey said.

“I think it’s just nice doing something for the community, helping people out,” she said.

Dr Travers said providing the flu jabs was a great way for people who wouldn’t normally get vaccinated, to access the service.

“Flu vaccination is the most effective way of preventing influenza,” he said.

“It’s also a great opportunity for us to talk to people about their general health and ask general health questions.”

Intown Centre volunteer Sandy Lankester received the free vaccine and said the service meant clients had more chance of keeping healthy.

“I think it’s great otherwise most of our clients wouldn’t have it done,” she said.

The free flu vaccination service coincided with World Immunisation Week, between April 24 and 30, which aimed to raise awareness about the importance of immunisation.

Public health physician Dr Naru Pal said although it was beneficial to get vaccinated at any time during the flu season, the best time was May or June.

He warned that flu vaccine protection could start to decline about four months after vaccination.

He said the flu was highly contagious and mainly spread when an infected person talked, coughed or sneezed.

“Last year, almost one in four of the 330 people who were diagnosed with influenza in the South West required hospitalisation,” he said.

Flu vaccinations are free for pregnant women, people over 65, those over six months with severe asthma, lung or heart disease, low immunity or diabetes, children between six months and five and indigenous people over six months old.

“Influenza can be serious, not only for individuals and their families who contract it but also for the organisations they work for and the people they care for,” Dr Pal said.

Minor side-effects of the vaccine may include soreness at the injection site or, less commonly mild flu-like symptoms.

“You can't catch the flu from the vaccine as it does not contain any live virus.”

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