IMPACT Community Health Service nurse answers 7 key flu vaccination questions

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With the 2022 influenza season quickly approaching, vaccinating now means greater protection throughout the season.

IMPACT Community Health Service provides flu vaccinations under the National Immunisation Program to eligible people for free.

In this article, IMPACT’s Child Health Nurse and Nurse Immuniser Pip Burton answers some of the key questions around the vaccine.

Are we expecting a bad flu season across the Discovery Coast?

There has been a reduced circulation of the influenza virus throughout the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. This could be related to an increase in hand hygiene and mask wearing, and reduced social contact, along with border restrictions.

However, as Australia opens its international borders and there is greater population movement, influenza may start to re-emerge and circulate widely in the country.

Can I get my Covid-19 and flu vaccination at the same time?

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has advised the influenza vaccines can be co-administered with COVID-19 vaccines on the same day.

Who is eligible under the National Immunisation Program for a free flu shot?

Influenza vaccines are provided free through the National Immunisation Program to the following people who have an increased risk of complications from influenza:

Who should get the vaccination?

It is important that all eligible groups are vaccinated against influenza.

Those who are medically at risk such as people with cardiac disease, lung disease, immune compromised, chronic illnesses can be at a higher risk of contracting the flu or having severe symptoms.

Queensland Health recommends all individuals aged 6 months and over be vaccinated.

Where can people get the flu shot if they are not eligible under NIP on the Discovery Coast?

With the recent State Government announcement, all Queenslanders will be offered a free flu vaccination as the state faces a severe outbreak of Influenza A.

The vaccines will be available free from GPs and pharmacies from now until the end of June.

We will be offering this service as well by appointment.

When is the best time to get vaccinated?

Vaccinating from April provides protection before the peak season. The best protection from vaccination occurs in the first three to four months following vaccination.

It is important to remember it generally takes from 10 days to two weeks for a vaccine to work.

How do I book at ICHS?

Those who qualify under the National Immunisation Program can phone 4902 2000 to book an appointment.

IMPACT Community Health Service (ICHS) operates out of IMPACT Community Health Precinct, located at 2 Rafting Ground Road Agnes Water. For more information about ICHS and the health support provided, visit here.

The health sector has a range of frontline workers and at IMPACT Community Health Service’s base in the Discovery Coast, one of the first people you’ll see is Veronica Daniel.

The ICHS receptionist is a vital part of the community health team in Agnes Water and the wider region.

Having started her role in March 2020, Veronica said it was an “interesting” time, not only did she have to learn the ins and outs of her role, but how to do so amid a pandemic.

But it was a learning curve she was keen to persevere through.

With a passion for helping and dealing with people, Veronica said she really loves being on the front desk.

“I enjoy helping clients when they come in,” she said

“That would be my favourite thing, I absolutely love being on reception.”

Veronica said they had a nice team at the ICHS, working in a cohesive environment.

“You’re never left drowning, if something happens people are quick to step in and help,” she said.

“It’s a beautiful environment.

“It’s a really nice place to work, we work hard and have fun.”

She said they got a lot of “really nice feedback” from clients expressing their appreciation for the services and the work they we do.

Veronica said it would be great to get even more services available for the community.

The townships and their surrounding areas encompassed by the ICHS are:

• Agnes Water

• Seventeen Seventy

• Baffle Creek / Wartburg

• Rosedale

• Lowmead

• Miriam Vale

• Bororen

• Turkey Beach

Impact Community Health Service (ICHS) operates in the Health Precinct at 2 Rafting Ground Road Agnes Water and from outreach clinics in Baffle Creek and Miriam Vale.

Our Health Precinct provides a range of health services through co-located and visiting health providers, along with Nursing and Allied Health Services provided by ICHS.

The ICHS is open 8.30am-4.30pm weekdays. For more information click here.

The Agnes Water and Discovery Coast region has long been known for its picturesque and laid-back atmosphere but has historically lacked pivotal services to welcome community expansion. 

IMPACT Community Health Service's Pam Mackie and Dowdall Optometry Group's Rory Dowdall
IMPACT Community Health Service's Pam Mackie and Dowdall Optometry Group's Rory Dowdall

Given the climate created by the COVID-19 pandemic the community is now experiencing significant population growth as people migrate away from hotspot locations, increasing the pressure on existing community services and demanding further resource in the health space. 

IMPACT Community Services’ Discovery Coast Health Precinct has a well-established reputation within the region and is pleased to offer a solution by providing communal office spaces for visiting allied health professionals to operate from. 

One such practitioner that has recently started visiting IMPACT’s Community Health Precinct is Rory Dowdall from Dowdall Optometry Group. 

Rory started his mobile optometry service after the first wave of COVID-19 hit, when subsequent lockdowns left his permanent role at a Brisbane optometry clinic in question. 

He decided to capitalise on the situation and took a chance at paving his own way. 

Over the past 18 months Rory has built up his own equipment and now services 9 locations throughout Queensland. 

After being approached by Checkup Australia he jumped at the opportunity to service the Discovery Coast community. 

“There’s a huge gap in regional services, and Agnes hasn’t had (an optometrist) for over 12 years,” he said. 

Although only contracted for two days a month by the government, Rory has decided to extend his visits to the idyllic coastal town for longer stints given the demand. 

His goal is to be based at IMPACT’s Agnes Water-based Community Health Precinct for 5 days each month to service the ongoing need. 

“Some people I’ve seen have been wearing glasses that are about 10 years old and are falling apart, so I’m glad I can come in, help them out and update their scripts,” he said. 

“I’ve already had a few glaucoma suspects that haven’t been seen for about six or so years, which is pretty scary.  

“At the same time, it’s great that I can come in and provide care for them and make sure they don’t lose visions or have any problems that could have been managed quite easily just because of where they live. 

“We don’t want anyone, just because you live in a regional area, to fall through the cracks.” 

Rory wants to change the way people approach optometry in rural areas. 

The travelling optometrist offers bulk billing for exams and has access to both DVA support and the medical aid subsidy scheme, which provides free glasses for health care card and pension card holders.  

“I just try and make it affordable for everyone,” Rory said. 

“I want to make sure nobody feels like they’re priced out of a service, which unfortunately a lot of the time people feel (is a barrier).” 

Rory said anyone over 65 should be having their eyes checked every year, and people under 65 every two. 

He recommends children should also be checked before starting school and has picked up a number of potential health issues in his patients based on their eye health. 

“I can tell people with high cholesterol, I can pre-diagnose diabetes, I have diagnosed over 50 patients with auto-immune conditions that were unknown to their GPs, so it’s one of those things where a thorough eye check can help not just from an eyes point of view but from a systemic point of view as well,” Rory said. 

If you live in or visit the Discovery Coast region and would like to make an appointment with Rory, phone the IMPACT Community Health Service on 07 4902 2000 or visit the health precinct at 2 Rafting Ground Road, Agnes Water. 

Optometry appointments for the Agnes Water clinic can be made directly online at https://bit.ly/dowdall  

IMPACT Community Health Service's Pam Mackie and Dowdall Optometry Group's Rory Dowdall
IMPACT Community Health Service's Pam Mackie and Dowdall Optometry Group's Rory Dowdall
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