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Flu, coronavirus and flurona – what to expect this winter

Lung disease expert, Associate Professor Yuben Moodley, Deputy Director of the Institute for Respiratory Health, is urging the Western Australian public to come forward for their flu jab to maximise their protection ahead of winter.

“With the borders being closed last year, we only had 11 flu cases in Western Australia but now that the borders are open, things could look very different,” said Associate Professor Moodley.

“I’m concerned people will be complacent because of the low numbers last year and there is some fatigue around vaccinations – with people being ‘vaxxed out’. But for those who have a long-term health condition, including lung conditions like asthma, or if they’re 65 and older, it’s vital they must get their flu shot. And we mustn’t forget that the coronavirus will still be circulating.

“I’ve had some questions from patients asking if they can catch the flu and coronavirus at the same time – Flurona. There is a possibility of this if you’re not vaccinated against either of the viruses. Although very rare, it could be deadly for high-risk people.

“I’ve also had question around whether you can have the flu and coronavirus vaccine at the same time and it’s perfectly safe to do this. Currently, there isn’t a combined vaccine for the flu and coronavirus but Novavax, based in America, is looking at a combined vaccine but it won’t be available for this flu season.”

Associate Professor Moodley went on to say that the timing of getting the flu jab is also essential.

“Flu season typically runs from June to September and the flu vaccine provides the highest level of protection in the first three to four months following a jab. Getting vaccinated from April onwards would provide the highest level of protection.

“At-risk groups are more likely to have serious complications from catching the flu. It’s important that they’re protected by getting the flu shot. It will not only shield them against catching the flu but spreading the flu to others.

“People forget that the flu is highly contagious so It’s important to minimise your own risk and look after your health, even in a situation where behaviours like wearing masks and social distancing has helped to stop the spread of the bug,” Associate Professor Moodley said.

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