Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection, spread by contact with fluids from coughs and sneezes. Young children often come into contact with, and spread viruses, including the influenza virus.
Ahead of the flu season, all early childhood education staff are encouraged to get their flu vaccination and can encourage parents to ensure their children are vaccinated too.
The flu kills more than 3,500 Australians each year. The flu is not like a cold: symptoms can last on average one to two weeks, with some people taking several weeks to recover.
People who work with children are often at an increased risk of vaccine-preventable diseases. They can also spread these diseases to children in their care, so it makes sense to protect yourself and others, by getting vaccinated.
Flu vaccinations save lives and when more people are vaccinated, fewer people become ill or suffer life-threatening complications from influenza.
Our children require special protection from the flu. Especially babies and toddlers because they are too young to know how to cover their coughs and sneezes. They need help to keep little faces and hands clean and to learn how to keep germs contained.
In Victoria, free influenza vaccination is available for children from six months to under five years of age.
To be fully protected this winter, children need the appropriate vaccine and doses for their age. Encourage parents to talk to their GP, local council immunisation service or community health clinic about when the influenza vaccine will be available.
And remember, everyone has the potential to spread flu to at-risk groups – the over 65s, pregnant women, children under five, people of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin and anyone with a weakened immune system.
Everyone needs to prepare for the coming flu season. You never forget the flu – so don’t forget your flu shot.
Additional information can be found on the Better Health Channel.
Wondering what other vaccinations might be beneficial? Go to Health.Vic for vaccination information for people working with children.