Image source: The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) Nurse Immunisation Team. Supplied Image.
As the 2022 winter season approaches, people across Australia are being reminded to check that they are up to date with their flu vaccinations. With health restrictions easing across the country, people are more likely to interact with and pass on illnesses to vulnerable populations such as the elderly and immunocompromised.
Immunisation is a critical part of Australia’s preventative health measures and has been successful in the reduction or elimination of many previously life-threatening illnesses such as polio, cholera, cervical cancer (through the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine), pertussis (whooping cough) and COVID-19.
Nurses are the leaders in delivering evidence-based immunisation services across all settings of health care delivery.
The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) is privileged to have an exceptional team of nurse educators who provide education to thousands of students in courses such as the Immunisation for Health Practitioners course and the Immunisation Annual Update CPD course. These courses expanded in 2021 when ACN partnered with the Federal Government Department of Health to develop and deliver the COVID-19 vaccination training program.
For World Immunisation Week, we have tapped into the expertise of the Nurse Educators from ACN’s Immunisation team (pictured above) to create a list of top five important tips to know about vaccines as we come into winter!
Get the flu shot before you flew!
After low recorded numbers in 2020 and 2021, Australia is expecting a resurgence of the influenza virus due to reopened international borders and lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. It is known commonly as the flu and is more likely to severely compromise the health of the elderly and immunocompromised.
People who are travelling internationally no matter what time are the year are advised to get the influenza shot two weeks before their departure.
In Australia, the best time to receive the influenza vaccine is in April, as the highest levels of protection occur in the first 3-4 months after vaccination. The second-best time is today!
There are plenty more vaccines than COVID-19
Did you know vaccines have been available in Australia for nearly 100 years? The easiest way to save millions of lives, including your own, is to stay on top of routine vaccinations.
Whilst children, adolescents, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are most likely to be at risk of missing routine vaccinations, it is also important to check if you are up to date with your vaccines when travelling internationally, to protect you from illnesses such as malaria, hepatitis, and yellow fever.
Let’s keep Australia polio free, measles endemic and maintain herd immunity against other dangerous diseases by getting vaccinated!
Ensure your child is up to date with their vaccinations
The COVID-19 pandemic has made a large impact on health care with families not able to access primary health care to the same extent during extensive lockdowns. There has been ongoing coverage of basic care being missed and with the stress of the cost of living on Australian’s minds, it is understandable that a routine shot might go missed in favour of more immediate concerns.
Studies have shown that there is not a significant delay in routine childhood vaccinations, but if you have kids, particularly under the age of five, make sure to check with your local GP that you and your child are up to date.
If you are unsure, Medicare now has a Digital Immunisation History statement that you can access through mygov, and each state has their own vaccination schedule online for easy access.
Don’t wait, ask today!
It is not just kids that are missing vaccinations. The 2009 Adult Immunisation Survey found that the main factor affecting vaccine uptake in Australians over 65 is the perceived requirement of recommendation from a medical professional.
Immunisations for older people are equally as important as for babies and young children, as our immune systems start to reduce with age and compete with chronic conditions. Despite this, we often feel like we need to be offered a vaccine, or we do not need it.
For the nurses reading this, the next time you have an appointment with an elderly client, make sure you take the opportunity to discuss vaccinations with them as part of routine practice.
Did you check the source?
Social media has been a life-changing way to connect with our loved ones and reach new avenues of information and discourse.
Unfortunately, it is also rife with mis- and disinformation about vaccines as the general public do not have the clinical training to interpret complicated nuances and can lose confidence or mistrust the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.
It is best to not encourage negative views, instead assist the community where possible to direct to reputable sources such as the Australian Government Department of Health website. When with consumers face to face, listen to their concerns and correct misinformation in a manner that will reassure the consumer.
Share the knowledge and promote vaccinations!
If you are interested in learning more about ACN’s HESA accredited Immunisation for Health Practitioners Course, the annual CPD update or the COVID-19 Vaccination Training Program, please visit our website.