I feel terrible! How terrible exactly?
Like, REALLY terrible. How’s your throat?
Won’t stop coughing. Nose?
Won’t stop running. Head?
Won’t stop throbbing. Temperature?
Burning up. Energy level?
Not enough to feel sorry for myself. Yeah, looks like you have the flu. The flu?
The influenza virus. A virus is a teeny,
tiny little organism that invades your body
and multiplies in your cells. It can infect other people through
tiny droplets of spit or mucus, which are blasted into the air
when you cough or sneeze. Gross, right? (COUGHS) (SHUDDERS) For most of us, when the flu strikes, it means a week or so off school
or work to recover. But for very young people
and older people, or people whose immune systems
don’t work properly, the flu can be really dangerous
and even fatal. Luckily, there’s a vaccination
for the influenza virus. It’s been around for 25 years
and you might have had one before. Like all vaccines, it contains
a little bit of the virus, but it’s been deactivated
so it can’t make us sick. It teaches the body
to recognise the flu virus so it knows how to fight it off
when it comes along for real. The tricky thing about the flu is that it comes
in a bunch of different strains, and those strains are adapting
and changing all the time. So, each year,
scientists from around the globe get together to look at
which strains are active in different parts of the world. They use that information
to design vaccines that will protect against
the three or four strains they think will be the most common
for that flu season. But they don’t always get it right. The flu season just gone was one of
the worst in Australia’s history. There were more than 220,000 cases, and many of those people
had been vaccinated. It’s really clear that
the vaccine that was used this year was not effective
in protecting people against some of the strains
of flu that we saw. But that doesn’t mean
we should give up on flu vaccines. Most years, they’re really effective. In fact, they’re so important
that some are calling for them to be made free and compulsory
for people who are most at risk. The government is also considering making the vaccine more powerful
in the future. I’m definitely getting
the flu vaccine next year. Good idea! But what can I do until then?
I hate being sick! Well, you can
wash your hands properly, you can avoid contact
with people who are sick, and when you’re sick,
you can get plenty of rest! And speaking of rest… ..naptime! (SNAPS FINGERS)