By Andrew Leslie, pharmacist Blooms The Chemist Casey Central
Silver linings are present in the strangest of places, and seeing the deadly influenza season all but eliminated in 2020 brings a wry smile to my somewhat 2020 fatigued face.
Laboratory-confirmed influenza infections dropped to just over 20,000 nationwide last year, down from 300,000 in 2019. Although restrictions Victorians weathered were painful, it certainly put a significant dent in this communicable disease.
We now have the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out underway. This has the potential to ease up restrictions and allow life to evolve into a new normal. This new normal will have us socialising with our friends and families, going on adventures, attending events and generally interacting with more individuals.
So, what does this mean for this flu season and what can we do to prepare?
Whilst the flu is not considered as fatal as Covid-19, presently (with more data still needed) it is considered more contagious. This means if we are moving about in our beautiful community more, the virus has a greater chance to spread. It will make a comeback. Whilst 2021 flu season (April to October) is not expected to be a nasty one, we can prepare.
A healthy immune system starts with healthy habits. As we march into winter, ensure you and your family are looking after your heath. Many elements effect our immune system, but the healthy basics will point you down the right path. Make sure you get enough sleep, reduce your stress levels and, if you have fussy eaters, support their diets with a good quality multi-vitamin, or if you have really fussy-eaters consider a meal replacement supplement. Talk to your health professional about whether taking vitamins and minerals such as zinc, vitamin C, echinacea and probiotics in preparation may be appropriate.
Get your family vaccinated. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether vaccination is appropriate for you. Timing is also important here, and for some populations the number of vaccinations also changes. Children, pregnant women and the elderly are most at risk of the flu.
Lastly, influenza and Covid-19 spread in very similar ways, so keep doing what you have been doing. Wear a face-mask when out in public and in crowded places, cough or sneeze into your elbow, social distance and isolate if feeling unwell and keep washing your hands.
If this has evoked any questions, pop into Blooms Casey Central where anyone of our friendly pharmacists will be more than happy to assist.