Dr Atari Metcalf
BSc (Health Promotion); MD
Immunisations are an excellent form of preventative healthcare with vast amounts of research performed into the safety and effectiveness of each vaccine. The routine schedule of vaccinations provides good protection for people living and working in Australia, but some conditions that are less common are not covered.
An example of this is meningococcal B , which is increasing in prevalence since we’ve done such an excellent job in reducing meningococcal C in Australia.
It may eventually become part of the government schedule, but at present is available as a private vaccine, and available at GS Health.
Certain groups at particular risk can receive vaccinations funded by the commonwealth government or the NSW government in the form of catch, and these are stocked at GS Health. Please visit our catch-up vaccinations page for more information.
Seasonal influenza immunisation is also available at GS Health and covers 4 strains, or in 2018 3 extra strong strains for patients 65 years and older. Having had the worst influenza season on record in NSW in 2017 (and guys, trust me it was a bad one), we highly encourage anyone who can receive the vaccination to get it.
Employers can also arrange vaccinations for their employees, and if there are enough of you we can visit your workplace. Visit our workplace vaccinations page or contact us for more information.
If you’re after vaccinations before you head away, rest assured you’re in good hands. Visit our travel health page for more information on the suggested vaccinations for your destination.
Travel planning and advice is critical particularly for more adventurous travel (which comes with adventurous activities and eating) and making sure your health is well covered before stepping out of your comfort zone.
Influenza or ‘the flu’ is a highly contagious respiratory illness, that’s caused by a family of influenza viruses. You may have heard of bird flu or swine flu, but there are three main types of flu with lots of subtypes.
Typically, Influenza A and B types cause the majority of infections in Australia.
Most people know what a cold feels like, and the flu can be similar but often more intense and prolonged.
People typically get some or all of the following symptoms:
For some people, the symptoms can last longer than a week. People can get very mild versions of these symptoms, especially if they have been previously immunised or carry some immunity from a previous infection.
However, it is important to seek medical attention if you’re quickly becoming worse, or if any of the following symptoms occur:
It is mainly spread by droplets from an infected person, which hang in the air after sneezing or coughing. It can also be spread when touching a surface where the droplets have landed.
That’s why it’s important to sneeze or cough into a tissue, throw it away, and wash your hands immediately and often.
What’s tricky is that people can be infectious even before they display any symptoms.
Adults are the most infectious during the first 3-5 days of illness, while children remain infectious for 7-10 days.
Everyone is theoretically at risk, there are some groups of people who are at particularly high risk of complications – these people are eligible for free influenza vaccination.
Also, people aged 6 months and over with certain medical conditions are eligible – these conditions include:
I’m glad you asked.
Influenza vaccination each year before winter begins is the best way to prevent influenza.
There are trivalent (three strain) and quadrivalent (four-strain) versions of the vaccine available, and GS Health only stocks the quadrivalent vaccination for added protection levels. If you’d like to book in to get your flu vaccine – just select Flu Vaccine as the appointment type online or through the HotDoc app – or call our lovely reception staff.
Anyone aged 6 months or older is eligible, and since children are at higher risk of complications, and also are powerful transmitters, it’s good to make sure they are immunised.
Also, simple measures can stop the transmission by remembering to:
Most influenza symptoms are managed with simple measures, such as ensuring enough rest (this is scientifically proven to boost your immune response), maintaining your fluids, and using simple analgesia to control your symptoms.
Nasal congestion and stuffiness respond quite well to nasal rinses, have a look at our page on triple nasal therapy.
For people who are at high risk of complications, or have rather severe symptoms early, there is a specific medication that can reduce the severity and duration of symptoms.
However, this must be started in the first 48 hours of symptoms. So, if you’re worried, you’re quite unwell – book in to see us as soon as possible.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a highly transmissible virus, spread through different forms of sexual contact.
Many different types of HPV target different parts of the body, and there are approximately 40 types of HPV that affect the genital area and spread from person to person through sexual contact.
HPV types 16 and 18 cause 70% of cervical cancer in females, and 90% of HPV-related cancer in males. Types 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58 are responsible for a further 20% of cervical cancer in females, and a further 5% of HPV-related cancer in males.
Types 6 and 11 cause approximately 95% of genital warts.
Most people that have an infection with HPV are asymptomatic. Which means you can pass it on without knowing. It is estimated that 4 out of 5 Australians will have an HPV infection at some point in their lives.
HPV is responsible for genital warts also.
The HPV vaccine provides highly effective protection against the development of HPV-related cancers and diseases.
In Australia, there are two types currently available, a 4-strain vaccine (G******l – strains 6, 11, 16 and 18) and the national immunisation program provides the 4-strain variety for free in schools to both males and females aged 12-13 years old. From 2018, this will be replaced by a 9-strain HPV vaccine for all school-aged children and will also be privately available for those not covered by this program. This will protect against strains 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58.
The best time to get vaccinated to provide the most protection is before becoming sexually active. However, unless previously diagnosed with HPV-related conditions, it is difficult to know what strains people have had.
There can be additional protection from having the vaccination even if you are older, have been sexually active, or even had a proven HPV infection in the past.
For men who have sex with men, this can help reduce the risk of anal cancer by preventing infection of the strains responsible. For the 4 strain vaccine, these are strains 16 and 18, and for the 9 strain vaccine, these are strains 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58.
The risk of anal cancer for men who have sex with men is 40 times higher than the general population, and for men who have sex with men who are HIV positive, it is 100 times greater. So, make sure you’ve had all three shots to reduce your risk.
The course of the 4 strain and the 9 strain vaccine are 3 injections given at 0, 2 and 6 months.
Dr Atari Metcalf
BSc (Health Promotion); MD
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