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6 reasons I wish I got the flu shot

Heather Anschau

Not sure you should get a flu vaccine? Read this

Heather, smiling and leaning on a balcony rail
Heather, smiling and leaning on a balcony rail

Last year, millions of Aussies flocked to their GP to get a flu jab.

I was not one of them.

Let me paint you a picture. It was 2019 and I was 31. In my head, I was young, healthy and invincible. In fact, I’d recently had a baby, which anyone who’s ever been in a birthing suite will attest requires some sort of super-human power.

I drank my daily kombucha, worked out regularly and wore activewear on weekends, so surely, my immune system could effortlessly smack down any viral invaders.

Oh, how wrong I was.

Fast forward to September 2019. The weather was warming up and Kmart had started stocking pool toys and Christmas decorations. Cold and flu season was over… or so I thought.

That was when I was struck with influenza.

If you’re not sure you should get a flu vaccine, here are six reasons to convince you otherwise so you don’t make the same mistake that I did.

1. Influenza is not ‘just another cold’

There are many things I can handle in life. I can change a tyre, cook a soufflé and cope with the symptoms of a common cold like a true champion. But, let’s clarify; influenza is not in the same category as the common cold.

From fevers so bad I was sweating in a 19-degree room to intense pain and mental confusion – the flu caused days and nights to blur into one. At times, my body was so weak I couldn’t bend to pick up my own child.

Your recovery period will not entail relaxing bubble baths and Netflix.

Unlike a 24-hr gastro bug, influenza isn’t short (and definitely isn’t sweet).

2. The flu puts you out for a solid week

Unlike a 24-hr gastro bug, influenza isn’t short (and definitely isn’t sweet). It isn’t uncommon for the symptoms of influenza to last more than a week and it's recommended you don’t return to work for at least 24 hours after your fever breaks.

I was out of action for five business days - and if you’re not lucky enough to have sick leave, that amount of time off work can leave a huge dent in your back pocket.

3. The flu is both contagious and deadly

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention explains that there are certain groups of people who are especially at risk if they get sick with the flu. These groups include young children, pregnant women, people over 65 and those with health conditions.

Even if you don’t fall into any of those categories, it’s highly likely you have a loved one who does.

People with the flu can spread it to others up to almost two metres away. So by getting a flu jab, you not only lessen your risk of catching it, but you lessen your risk of passing it on to at-risk friends and family.

4. Flu shots are free for eligible Aussies

The flu shot is free for those under five years, those over 65, pregnant women and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It is also free for those with many common chronic health conditions such as diabetes.

If you don’t fall into any of those categories, don’t worry – your flu jab won’t set you back too much. Last year, pharmacy chains in Australia were charging $20-$25, which is a small price to pay for your health!

5. Side effects of immunisations are minimal

Like any medicine, vaccines can also have side effects. But for most, the chance you’ll experience serious side effects from the flu vaccine is much lower than the chance you’ll cause yourself significant harm should you catch the disease.

The Government website advises that common side effects include pain, redness or hardness where the needle went in and fever, tiredness and body aches.

6. Vaccination providers aren’t hard to find

Your GP isn’t the only one who can administer flu shots. From your local chemist, community health clinic and public hospital to aged care facilities, schools and workplaces, vaccines are available across the country.

Keen to join me and book in for a flu jab? In 2020, the Australian Government is securing the largest ever supply of seasonal influenza vaccines and they generally become available across the country from early April. Head to the Australian Government's dedicated page to find an immunisation provider near you.

nib partnered with health professionals and used government authorities to answer some of the biggest questions about the flu vaccine. Check out, Everything you need to know about the flu vaccine.

Heather Anschau smiling on her balcony

Heather Anschau

Heather Anschau is a journalist who’s passionate about health education and wellbeing. Whether it’s trawling medical journals for a new treatment or trialling the latest workout fad, she gets a buzz out of helping others feel their best. Heather has written for Sporteluxe, Fitness First Magazine, Vitality and MiNDFOOD and now proudly calls nib’s The Check Up her home.