Vaccinations will reduce your risk of flu and COVID


People who contract COVID-19 are urged to perform a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) as soon as they show symptoms to ensure they have access to anti-viral medication if eligible.

Anti-viral medication must be taken within five days of getting COVID-19 to be effective and that is why it is important for people to get tested for COVID as soon as they notice any symptoms.

People at risk include people who are aged 70 and over, aged 50 and over with certain health conditions (or 30 if they’re Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander), or have a weakened immune system, disability or are born with heart disease.

With more incidences of influenza and COVID being reported in the community, Bass Coast Health (BCH) CEO Jan Child is urging people to also ensure their vaccination status is up-to-date to give them the best protection.

“More than 4.2 million Victorians are now eligible for a 2023 booster dose of a COVID vaccination and so many more of us need to get a booster to give ourselves, and our community, the best protection possible,” she said.

“In a recent week, 58 COVID-related deaths in Victoria were reported to the Department of Health, equating to an average of 8 deaths a day, so this virus remains a very real risk to our community, particularly to those with compromised immune systems and the elderly.”

Flu and COVID vaccinations are available from selected pharmacies and GP clinics.

“This is the third year we have lived with COVID and there are now more cases of COVID, as well as influenza, in our community as people start to gather inside during wintry weather,” Ms Child said.

“Ensuring your COVID and flu vaccinations are current, including by having a COVID winter booster if it’s been six months or more since your last vaccination, will help to keep you and others safe.

“We particularly need to be mindful of the risk COVID and the flu pose to people with weakened immune systems or who are unable to have a COVID vaccination due to a medical condition and are therefore at high risk of catching COVID and becoming very ill.”

COVID can be a life-threatening virus that can cause short and long-term symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, loss or change in sense of smell or taste, difficulty sleeping, headache, and anxiety and depression. Influenza also poses a significant health risk to people with weak immune systems.

Both COVID and influenza are highly contagious viral infections that usually spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and those droplets are inhaled by others. Infected droplets can be touched and then inhaled or consumed when a person eats or touches their nose or mouth.

“That’s why regular and thorough handwashing for 20 seconds is vital as doing so will reduce the risk of an otherwise healthy person picking up the virus,” Ms Child said. 

While COVID is more contagious than the flu and can make you feel very sick, COVID and influenza share similar symptoms: fever (high temperature), sore throat, cough, a runny or stuff nose, muscle or body aches, fatigue and headaches.

“If you experience these symptoms, please have a Rapid Antigen Test to test for COVID, wear a mask and reduce your contact with others until your symptoms resolve. Certainly don’t go to work or school as you risk spreading illness to others,” Ms Child said.

Members of the public can also reduce their risk of getting or spreading COVID and influenza by washing their hands regularly, covering their mouth when coughing, sneezing into disposable tissues, and cleaning or disposing of contaminated objects.