Kellock Lodge calls for community help to combat flu
Alexandra’s residential aged care facility, Kellock Lodge, is calling for community help to keep seniors healthy this flu season.
The home has just finished a mass influenza (flu) vaccine campaign, with more than a hundred staff, residents and family members given free flu shots at the home this month.
“All of our 50 residents have now been immunised, and 93 per cent of staff have also had their shots, so we are well on track to make our target rate of 97 per cent of staff immunised,” Clinical Care Coordinator Cassandra Fraser said. “Now we need the community’s help to make sure the vulnerable seniors we care for have the best chance of enjoying a healthy winter”. “I’m encouraging everyone in the community to get a flu shot, ideally within the next few weeks. This will ensure that they, their family and loved ones and the community are protected from what can be a very serious and even life-threatening illness.”
Ms Fraser said flu shots were free for people aged over 65 and shots were available (for people of any age) at local doctors and participating pharmacies.
“There are so many misconceptions about flu – people think it’s just like a bad cold, or that it’s only dangerous for young children and the elderly,” Ms Fraser said.
“The message we want to get out is that this can be a devastating illness, and that everyone can play a role in safeguarding their own health and protecting vulnerable people like our seniors.”
Ms Fraser said Kellock Lodge had significantly stepped up its outbreak and infection control preparedness as part of a sweeping quality improvement plan at the home.
Ms Fraser is overseeing the flu vaccination program. At the same time, infection control specialist Bronwyn Pyke, a registered nurse with 20 years’ experience in infection control, is ensuring that Kellock Lodge has the best infection control procedures. Ms Pyke is also coordinating additional staff training to ensure that frontline staff have the most up to date knowledge and skills.
Ms Fraser said that as well as getting a flu shot, community members could support a healthy winter for Kellock Lodge’s seniors by not visiting if they had any symptoms or if they have been around someone who has the flu. People could also limit the spread of infections by practicing good hand hygiene, including washing and sanitising, and sneezing into the elbow, not hands.
“We’re confident that we are doing everything we can to guard against a flu outbreak and we are very hopeful that community members will continue to match our vigilance to keep our seniors safe and well this winter,” Ms Fraser said.
To help the community better understand the benefits of flu vaccination Kellock Lodge has prepared the “Top 10 Reasons to Have a Flu Shot”.
More general information about flu and flu vaccination is available on the Victorian Department of Health website at www.health.vic.gov.auand the Better Health Channel at www.betterhealthchannel.vic.gov.au(search for influenza).
Top 10 Reasons to Have a Flu Shot
- The inﬂuenza virus is highly contagious and can easily spread from person to person through sneezing or touching contaminated objects such as door handles, light switches or money.
- Flu can be debilitating and is more severe than a cold.
- Vaccination is the most effective method of preventing flu.
- Some occupational groups, such as health care workers, have a higher chance of contracting inﬂuenza because of the close contact they have with patients.
- By taking steps to ensure you don’t get the flu, you can help protect vulnerable people who could face serious consequences if they are infected, such as seniors, infants or those with health conditions.
- Help protect yourself and your family from flu, and avoid the inconvenience, danger and disruption of being sick this flu season.
- The dominant inﬂuenza strain often mutates from year to year and the eﬀect of the vaccine wears oﬀ over time, so yearly inﬂuenza vaccination is recommended.
- You can’t get the ﬂu from the vaccine. The vaccine is inactivated, meaning it does not contain any live viruses and cannot cause the illness.
- Vaccines, like other medicines, can have side effects, however most of side effects are minor.
- The inﬂuenza virus does not discriminate. Even fit and healthy people can catch the flu and pass it on. The past is no predictor of the future – just because you did not get flu last year does not mean you won’t get it this year!