No clue about flu
Australians aren't up to speed about the risk of regular seasonal flu, a new survey commissioned by Priceline Pharmacy has found: instead of getting regular flu vaccinations, we rely on garlic, chicken soup, multivitamins and hand sanitiser!
The research, which was released as Priceline Pharmacy offers flu vaccines at in-store flu clinics in 80 locations across Australia, shows that Australians could do with a healthy dose of the facts about flu.
Vitamin C or multivitamins are the most popular additional or alternate way of preventing the flu, with 52% of respondents using them. Other people also swear by:
- Using hand sanitiser or washing hands (42%);
- Getting to bed early (27%);
- Eating garlic (18%);
- Avoiding public transport (18%);
- Eating chicken soup (10%);
- Avoiding the gym (4%); and
- Wearing a face mask (4%).
Other popular ways of trying to avoid the flu include eating a healthy diet, keeping 1 metre away from others, not sharing cups at work, keeping warm and avoiding sick colleagues.
Bronwyn Flanagan, pharmacy services manager for Priceline, says that while these prevention methods are a good start, many people still don’t understand that the flu jab is the single most effective form of protection against regular seasonal influenza.
‘There’s so much conflicting information out there about what is the most effective way of preventing the flu,’ Bronwyn says. ‘It can be a confusing and even bewildering choice, but it doesn’t have to be.
‘It’s actually really simple and easy to protect yourself and your family against the flu.
‘Research shows that vaccines are 70% to 90% effective in healthy people under 65, and in over-65s vaccines greatly reduce the risk of hospitalisation from respiratory illnesses.’
The survey reveals several reasons why people don’t get vaccinated, with 48% of people believing they don’t need it. Other reasons include:
- I’ve heard the flu vaccine is more dangerous than the flu (19%);
- I never get the flu (16%);
- It’s too expensive (13%);
- I’m too busy (10%); and
- I’m scared of needles (9.7%).
Bronwyn says that while most Australians are pretty well informed about the risks of flu and how to avoid it, there’s still several common myths circulating, including the belief that the vaccination carries more risk than the flu virus itself, and that the flu is not a serious illness.
‘Vaccination is the most effective form of protection against the flu,’ she says. ‘The risk of adverse reactions, which is really very minor, is far outweighed by the much more serious risk of flu, which causes an estimated 15,000 deaths and 18,000 hospitalisations in Australia each year.
‘But overall, people are fairly well informed about flu prevention and realise that good hygiene, such as washing your hands regularly, and leading a healthy lifestyle all help to prevent the flu virus, but can’t replace a vaccine.’
The survey also showed that parents with children aged under 12 are more likely to get the flu shot (48%) than non-parents (31%) and say the biggest reasons for getting the vaccination are that they don’t have time to get sick (45%) or don’t want to pass the illness onto their family and others (33%).
This is the third year that Priceline Pharmacies will offer jabs to protect Australians from not only regular seasonal flu, but also the H1N1 variation.
Last year almost 3000 people received flu vaccinations from Priceline Pharmacies across Australia, and 40% of people that attended the flu clinic had not had a flu vaccination before.