So you’re thinking of booking a workplace flu vaccination program to fight the flu this year? Before you book your program there are a couple of things you need to consider.
- With bookings commencing the week of April 1st, 2020, we can provide in clinic flu vaccination programmes. Where is your nearest Sonic HealthPlus Clinic? With a voucher, employees can book a vaccination anytime, based on the clinics availability.
- How many vouchers will you need?
- Where is the closest Sonic HealthPlus and Travel Doctor – TMVC clinic to you?
- Remember vouchers are only redeemable at Sonic HealthPlus locations and cannot be replaced if lost. Vouchers are prepaid and non-refundable.
- Make sure you read the Terms and Conditions carefully before you complete your booking.
- For locations within the metro areas you can request a quote for your in clinic flu vaccination programs online.
- Once you have completed your booking request, a booking request confirmation will be emailed to your supplied email address. Please note, a booking request can only be completed if you are a current client of Sonic HealthPlus. To register, follow this link to become a client and obtain a client ID.
- Complete the purchase of your vouchers with your Flu Coordinator by providing a credit card over the phone or we can provide an invoice for the vouchers.
- Our Flu Coordinator will email the vouchers for you to distribute to your team once the purchase is complete.
- Distribute vouchers to the team.
- Share the locations of the Sonic HealthPlus and Travel Doctor – TMVC with your team, so they can locate their nearest clinic and book their vaccination.
- Display the Flu Marketing Material regarding the voucher redemption process. This will be emailed to you upon purchasing the vouchers.
- Employees can locate their nearest Sonic HealthPlus clinic by clicking here.
- The employee must call their chosen clinic to book an appointment to redeem their voucher.
- Appointments will be depend on the clinic’s availability.
- Vouchers cannot be replaced if lost and are non-refundable.
Impact of Influenza in Australia and on the workplace
The Australian Department of Health’s 2019 Influenza Season summary affirmed what most people already knew: last year we endured very high levels of activity compared to previous seasons and those levels were high from earlier in the year – even during the summer months. This culminated in a total of 310,011 laboratory-confirmed flu notifications by the beginning of December. On a more serious note, by October 6 more than 800 influenza-associated deaths had been officially recorded, the majority of these were due to influenza A (96%, n=782) and the ages ranged from under 12 months of age to 102 years. Where sub-typing information was available, 128 were associated with influenza A (H3N2), 29 with influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, and 30 with influenza B. The median age of deaths notified was 86 years.
Influenza is easily transmitted through inhaling respiratory aerosols released when coughing or sneezing or by direct contact with respiratory secretions (think of keyboards and phones). Then follows an incubation period of 1 to 3 days after which symptoms start. Initially people think they have a cold and continue to work on, thereby potentially spreading the illness to work colleagues.
In addition to absenteeism due to being unwell, which can be of several days if not weeks duration, it is recognized that influenza may cause weeks of feeling unwell and fatigued with resultant decrease in productivity.
Annual vaccination is the most important measure to prevent influenza and its complications. It is recommended for all people aged 6 months and over (unless contraindicated).
Optimal protection against influenza occurs within the first three to four months following vaccination. Timing of vaccination should aim to achieve the highest level of protection during peak influenza season. This usually occurs from June to September in most parts of Australia. Vaccinating from April provides protection before the peak season.
However, the vaccine can be successfully administered any time that year to accommodate unexpected circumstances such as a worker being diagnosed with Influenza or a worker being required to travel overseas.
- Influenza is a common disease with nearly 310,011 cases in Australia by the beginning of December 4.
- Influenza causes significant symptoms and ill health and work absenteeism among healthy adults who are unwell or caring for others.
- Influenza can cause significant disease and even death in vulnerable populations such as the elderly, babies, pregnant women and people whose immune system is suppressed.
- The vaccination programme prevents disease in up to 70% of people who are vaccinated and as such reduces working days lost.
- The vaccination programme reduces the pool of people who may get the disease, thereby reducing the risk that it may spread to vulnerable populations.
Particularly during winter, a common cause of sickness and time away from work is "the flu" with workers complaining of:
- Generalised aching and fatigue
- Respiratory symptoms–running nose, sore throat, cough
Many of these workers actually have a cold caused by any number of viruses. They will usually return to full work capacity within 1 to 3 days.
"The flu" caused by the influenza virus produces these symptoms but on a far more intense and prolonged scale – high fevers, intense headache, muscle pain, fatigue of the whole body and symptoms that last for several days or weeks. Most tragically, some people who catch influenza die despite the first world health services available in Australia. It is estimated that consequently, public health services reduce the spread of influenza, particularly to people of vulnerable health by the use of an immunization programme.
There are specific features of the Influenza virus that if understood are very useful in preparing an Influenza management plan for your company.
There are three categories of influenza virus, A, B, and C. The categories are based on different types of proteins or antigens. Influenza A and B have the potential to cause serious disease in humans.
The H and N antigen status of the virus is central in planning an immunization programme. Influenza virus has two types of glycoproteins (otherwise known as antigens) that sit on their outside surface and are an essential tool in enabling the virus to infect people. The H (haemagglutinin) glycoprotein attaches the virus to cells in the human body. Once attached the virus can penetrate the cell and get busy making new virus bodies. The N (neuraminidase) glycoprotein opens up the human cells to release the newly made virus bodies so that they can spread to other sites.
The H and N status is most important in Influenza A. These antigens change very slightly, a process called antigenic drift, over time. The influenza virus of 2020 is highly likely to be different from that of 2018 and that of 2019. This is why a yearly influenza vaccine that targets the antigens of that year is required.
Another feature of influenza is that there is both seasonal and pandemic influenza. Both types have similar symptoms but vary significantly in impact.Seasonal Influenza may be defined as:
- The usual yearly episodes of influenza occurring in or around winter,
- Caused by slight changes in the glycoproteins on the virus such that the immune system does not recognize and destroy the virus before it causes infection.
- May cause significant disease and even death but compared to Pandemic Influenza the number of cases, the intensity of the symptoms and the number of deaths are much less.
- The number of cases can be greatly reduced by the use of the yearly immunization programme. The vaccination prevents disease in up to 70% of recipients.
Infrequent but not rare events with the last being in 2009 and three known episodes (in 1918, 1957 and 1968) occurring in the 20th century.
The result of significant changes in the Influenza A H and N antigens called antigenic shifts such that the virus looks like a new virus.
A risk of serious disease and death even in healthy adults.
Far more significant disease and a much higher death rate.
The need an entirely new vaccination to be developed so that there may be a lag time between the disease starting and being able to provide people with vaccine protection.
1. Australian Government Dept. of Health (2017). The Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th ed. Retrieved from https://beta.health.gov.au/health-topics/flu-influenza
2. Cohen, Y.Z., &Dolen, R. (2014). Influenza. In D. Kasper, A. Fauci, S. Hauser, D. Long D J. Jameson & J. Loscalzo (Eds) Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, (19ed Chap 24). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2014. Retrieved from http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=1130§ionid=79738663. Accessed December 16, 2017.
3. Immunisation Coalition (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.immunisationcoalition.org.au/news-media/2018-influenza-statistics/
4. 14 December 2018 Department of Health “Australian Influenza Surveillance Report and Activity Updates”. No. 12, 2019 23 September to 6 October 2019 https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-surveil-ozflu-flucurr.htm/$File/flu-12-2019.pdf
5. RACGP (2014). Managing Pandemic Influenza in General Practice Retrieved from https://www.racgp.org.au/your-practice/guidelines/flukit/
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The recommended treatment is rest, drinking plenty of fluids and use of paracetamol for the relief of pain and fever. You should see your local doctor if you are concerned about your symptoms or if your symptoms are getting worse. Antiviral medication may be prescribed by your doctor if you are at risk of complications from the flu. Antiviral medication needs to be started within 48 hours from the onset of flu symptoms. Antibiotics are not effective for treating the flu.
Your symptoms may include: Headache, muscle aches, rapid onset of fever, fatigue, sneezing, running nose, sore throat, and cough.
Simple ways to control the spread of the flu is to get the annual flu vaccination and to practice good personal hygiene such as washing your hands, wiping over frequently touched surfaces with a cleaning cloth covered in detergent and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
An annual flu vaccination is recommended for any person from six months of age who wishes to reduce the chance of being ill with the flu. For anyone in a high-risk category, the flu can be a serious and potentially fatal illness. The National Health and Medical Research Council recommend annual vaccinations for people with:
- Heart conditions
- Severe asthma
- Lung conditions
- Kidney problems
- Impaired immunity
- Malignant cancers
- Pregnant women
- Chronic neurological disorders.
- If you have a severe infection with a high fever
- If you have ever had Guillain-Barre Syndrome
- If you are taking any medication please consult your doctor
- People who are severely allergic to chicken products such as eggs and feathers
Although no harm is done having the flu vaccination with these medications, it can sometimes increase the toxicity of your medications and therefore should be administered under the supervision of your regular doctor.
The vaccine is composed of inactivated or dead virus and so despite claims it does not actually cause the “flu”. However, it is understandable that lay people may be concerned about this risk as up to 10% of recipients may develop fever, fatigue and muscle aches. It is often worth reminding these people that their symptoms will last only a few days whereas if they caught influenza they would be unwell for far longer.
The nurse will discuss your symptoms with you on the day and vaccinate at their discretion.
Like any medication, some people may experience an unexpected reaction to the flu vaccination. Common side effects include:
- Pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
- Low-grade temperature
- Headache or muscle aches
- Drowsiness or tiredness
- Generally feeling unwell
- A temporary small lump at the injection site
Most side effects are minor, last a short time, resolve without any treatment and do not lead to any long-term problems.
Generally, mild reactions begin within 6 to 12 hours. As with any medication, very rarely you will have a severe allergic reaction that usually occurs within 15 minutes of receiving the vaccination. Due to this, it is important for you to wait for 15 minutes after receiving the vaccination before leaving.
As with all vaccinations and medication, there is the possibility of an anaphylactic reaction. These reactions are rare.
However for the safety of workers, Sonic HealthPlus recommend that the following people see their usual health professional to discuss their suitability for a vaccine:
- Workers who have previously reacted to the vaccine
- Workers with a history of anaphylaxis or a severe reaction to eggs or egg products.
Yes. The flu vaccination can be safely given during any stage of pregnancy. Pregnant women are at an increased risk of severe disease or complications from the flu. Vaccinating against the flu during pregnancy can not only protect pregnant women, but provide ongoing protection to a newborn baby for the first six months after birth.
The ATAGI recommends the vaccination for all pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy. We are happy to offer the vaccination but would recommend that the recipient lay down to reduce the risk of fainting.
At your workplace, the vaccination will be administered by a nurse who has current emergency procedure training in accordance with state and territory regulations.
10% of recipients may develop symptoms at the site of the injection – redness, pain, swelling. However, if the person feels otherwise well 20 minutes after the vaccination they can continue their usual work and recreational activities.
Our national flu program is very popular and is generally booked out months in advance. Changing the confirmed date of your onsite vaccination programme is at the discretion of the National Flu Coordinator based on scheduling and resourcing. Programs will not be rescheduled under a week out.
SHP will order the number of vaccines requested seven days prior to the job date. One business day before Nurse is scheduled to be on site, SHP will close the bookings diary and confirm final booking numbers. Final numbers can be no less than 10% of the original request. For example, if 40 vaccines are requested 7 day before your scheduled booking, one business day prior to SHP coming on site we will confirm your final numbers, you can reduce your order by 10% only, and the minimum charge will therefore be 36. This same condition applies to “No-Shows” on the day of on site vaccinations. You may contact the National Flu Coordinator to purchase an in-clinic voucher.
No. Vouchers can only be redeemed at a Sonic HealthPlus or Travel Doctor-TMVC Clinic.
Vouchers can only be redeemed at a Sonic HealthPlus, or Travel Doctor-TMVC Clinic. Sonic HealthPlus has over 50 clinics across Australia and vouchers can be redeemed at any of these clinics before 31 August 2020. To find your nearest clinic click here.
We offer both in-clinic and onsite flu programs that are flexible and affordable. To talk to someone about organising your flu program this year contact us on:
1300 339 557
Sources: Australian Government Department of Health, World Health Organisation, Australian Influenza
For terms and conditions, click here
This influenza season will be a challenging one with the introduction onto the flu vaccine market this year of a number of new influenza vaccines with varying age indications.
FluAd™ is a trivalent flu vaccine and will be available for the National Immunisation Program some time from mid-April. FluAd™ contains an adjuvant which has been proven to trigger an enhanced immune response in adults aged 65+ years.
FluAd Quad® for all people aged 65 years and over (available only on the National Immunisation Program):
- an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
- an A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 (H3N2)-like virus; and
- a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus.
Please refer to full product information for further safety information, contraindications and precautions for any of these influenza vaccines. For additional reading please see:About new flu vaccines for over 65sGround-breaking flu vaccines for Aussies
Adults aged 65 years and over will be eligible to receive one new free vaccine supplied by the government in this flu season. It works in a different way to the usual Quadrivalent vaccine and their use is restricted to adults 65 years and older: FluAd™ (with an additional ingredient to boost its effectiveness) will only be available through a GP clinic or at a pharmacy, not as an option with any onsite flu programs.
Yes FluAd™ is safe. Side effects are mostly mild, very rarely causing serious adverse events. However the risks from the vaccine are less than from getting influenza infection. Most of the side effects are related to their immune stimulating effects and are slightly more common than with standard vaccines, such as a sore arm and, less commonly, a fever. Generally, these side effects are mild and don’t last long.
Not with FluAd™ as it will only be available for this flu season through the National Immunisation Program at GP clinics or in pharmacies. They could receive the Quadrivalent vaccine as part of an onsite program however (see point 6).
No, FluAd™ is recommended for use only in people aged 65 years and over.
They can still have a flu vaccine, but it will be the standard Quadrivalent flu vaccine (i.e. not FluAd™), providing there are no other medical issues to preclude this.
Yes, however they must weigh up the evidence which has shown that the high-dose version better stimulates the immune system of older users to make protective antibodies. The vaccine for over 65s is not perfect – it simply reduces the risk of getting the flu to a slightly greater effect than the standard vaccine. Like other flu vaccines, there is still the chance that the vaccine strains won’t match what’s circulating.