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Meningococcal Disease in Teens
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Meningococcal Disease in Teens

Meningococcal disease can turn up in teens. But why should you care?

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Your Travel Checklist

Travelling overseas? Use this handy checklist to help you pack and be travel ready.

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What is the difference between the flu, a cold and COVID-19?

Influenza are a group of viruses that are responsible for the disease we commonly call the ‘flu’.

 

It is a disease that is spread from person to person during coughing or sneezing or by direct contact with respiratory secretions (e.g. saliva, nasal discharge). It can cause a wide range of disease, from mild to more severe disease that affects many body systems and can result in hospitalisation, other infections (e.g. pneumonia) and even death.

 

The common cold is also caused by a virus, and also affects the airways, but generally tends to be milder than the flu. Colds do not usually cause serious complications or require hospitalisation.

 

COVID-19 comes from a large family of viruses called coronaviruses. It is transmitted in the same way as the flu, with similar symptoms, but severe disease appears to be higher for COVID-19.

 

So is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Often testing is required to know for sure, but here are some general ways you can distinguish some of the symptoms:

 

Sign/symptom

Influenza

Cold

COVID-19

Symptom onset

Abrupt

Gradual

Range from mild to severe

Fever

Usual

Rare

Usual

Aches

Usual

Slight

Sometimes

Chills

Fairly common

Uncommon

Sometimes

Fatigue/weakness

Usual

Sometimes

Sometimes

Sneezing

Sometimes

Common

No

Stuffy nose

Sometimes

Common

Sometimes

Sore throat

Sometimes

Common

Sometimes

Chest discomfort, cough

Common

Mild to moderate

Usual

Headache

Common

Rare

Sometimes

Adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC ) and Australian Government, Department of Health.

Why do I need to get vaccinated against the flu each year?

There are two main reasons for getting a yearly flu vaccine:

  • Flu viruses are frequently changing and vaccines may be updated from one season to the next to protect against the most recent and common circulating strains
  • A person’s immune protection from influenza vaccination declines over time and annual vaccination is recommended.
Who is at risk from COVID-19?

In Australia, those at risk of catching the virus are:2

  • those who have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • travellers who have recently returned from overseas
  • people in group residential settings
  • people in correctional and detention facilities

Those at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19 are people:

  • aged 70 years and older
  • with compromised immune systems.

Those at moderate risk of serious illness from COVID-19 are:

People with underlying chronic conditions, including – heart disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes, severe obesity.   

For a full list of those at risk and further advice for at risk groups visit: Advice for people at risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) | Australian Government Department of Health

How do you get whooping cough?

As whooping cough is a highly contagious disease, it can be caught whenever an infected person comes in contact with a susceptible person.

Simply put, whooping cough is spread from person to person through a fine mist of tiny droplets in the air. These tiny droplets are transmitted between people through close contact with an infected person. In an infected person, the tiny droplets contain the bacteria Bordetella pertussis. This bacterium gives its name – pertussis – to the disease we commonly call whooping cough.

If you breathe in the tiny droplets of bacteria, you become exposed to the highly contagious disease. You can also get whooping cough from sharing food or drinks or from close contact like kissing.

What are the risks of not vaccinating my baby?

Your baby’s immune system is not fully developed like older children and adults. Therefore, vaccination is an effective way to protect your baby against certain vaccine-preventable infectious diseases.
 

By keeping your child up-to-date with their vaccinations, you’re also helping out the community by protecting the more vulnerable people from becoming infected. Many of the diseases we are vaccinating against are rarely seen in Australia anymore, this is because of routine widespread vaccination and surveillance. These diseases do still occur in some parts of the world. If we stopped vaccination and someone was to arrive from overseas with one of these infections, it could easily spread to others.

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