Elderly ?need flu needles
By PETER CATON
THE Tweed, with one of Australia's highest proportions of elderly people, ought to have a high level of awareness about the deadly dangers of winter flu.
But according to Murwillumbah doctor and spokesman for the Tweed Valley Division of General Practice Doug Warne, too few people are taking advantage of the annual flu vaccine which can save lives.
He has called on elderly people and others with diabetes, lung and kidney diseases, heart conditions and asthma to make sure they get their vaccinations soon. The shots are free to everyone over 65, and to indigenous people over 50.
"Unfortunately many people die every year in Australia from the flu and the elderly are particularly at risk," he said.
"In 2002 influenza and pneumonia were the underlying cause of 3084 deaths.
"With the elderly and those with chronic medical problems, the rates increase of them suffering of severe illness and death.
"It is fortunate a vaccine is available to decrease the likelihood of getting the flu, but only 77 per cent of those over 65 are being vaccinated."
Dr Warne said some people were under the misconception they could get the flu by being vaccinated, but the vaccine did not contain live virus and therefore could not produce illness. The shot is required annually, as the vaccine was changed each year to target particular strains of flu predicted to occur.
The vaccine is available for anyone concerned about getting the flu and is also recommended for women who will be in the later stages of pregnancy in flu season. However be- fore getting the shot, consult your local doctor.
nWith winter almost upon us, the Daily News would like to hear from readers about some of the measures they have taken to ward off the colds and flu. Send us your suggestions by emailing email@example.com or mail The Editor, P.O.Box 6336, Tweed Heads South, 2486.