GIVE IT A SHOT: SWHHS chief executive Linda Patat is all smiles as she gets her flu shot from nurse Nigel Barr at the Roma Hospital on Friday.
GIVE IT A SHOT: SWHHS chief executive Linda Patat is all smiles as she gets her flu shot from nurse Nigel Barr at the Roma Hospital on Friday. Alexia Austin

Flu season takes off in west

IT'S a common reaction for residents in the southwest to grit their teeth and push through when it comes to the flu.

However, this attitude culminated in a three month nightmare for the Dixon family during last year's flu season.

For Barb and Ronnie Dixon, who run the Walangar property between St George and Mitchell, the story started in the waiting room of a Brisbane hospital.

"We were travelling to Brisbane a lot last year for my healthcare,” Ms Dixon said.

"And we were always sitting in the outpatients section of the hospital with people coughing all around us - and we are pretty sure that is where Ronnie caught [the flu.]”

From there Mr Dixon's health deteriorated.

"He spent a fortnight getting in and out of bed, trying to do some work, but feeling really low,” Ms Dixon said.

"The next week he couldn't even get out of bed, he felt that bad - and I wanted to take him into the hospital, but he kept saying no.

"It was the worst I have ever seen him, he was very, very ill. He was coughing and coughing, he just couldn't stop.

"When we finally got him [to the doctor] they put him on a course of strong antibiotics. He then had to go back for a second course of them later on.”

Ms Dixon said this year her family were first in line to get the flu shot.

"It changed his opinion on getting the flu shot. He has never had the flu needle before, and last week we went and got it done,” she said.

"He's a strong person, but after last year he wasn't missing out on it.”

Healthcare reports indicate that the 2017 flu season will be dwarfed by this years, with the rampant disease having already struck down 3242 people since January- almost 300 more than this time last year.

It's the busiest start to a year since 2008, with more than 36 people being diagnosed each day.

A Queensland Health spokesman said there may be several factors contributing to the high number of cases this year, including increased awareness and the number of tests conducted in public laboratories having almost doubled in the past few years.

Staff at the SWHHS attended an inoculation day on Friday.

SWHHS chief executive Linda Patat, received one of the first shots of the day.

"I didn't even feel [the injection] this year, it was less than a pinch,” Ms Patat said.

"I've been getting the flu shot yearly for the past ten years.

"I encourage everyone to get one. I am an advocate for making sure if you can prevent something you may as well get injected.”

Some residents were concerned about the after-effects of the vaccination, with claims of flu-like symptoms after inoculation.

A Queensland Health spokesperson said serious reaction to the vaccination in this way was rare.

"The vaccine does not contain live flu viruses and cannot cause flu. However, some people may experience mild flu-like symptoms for up to 48 hours as their immune system responds to the vaccine. Serious reactions to the vaccine are rare. While some people may experience mild side effects such as pain, swelling, and redness at the injection site, these usually resolve quickly.”

The flu vaccine will be available in pharmacies and health centres across the southwest from next week.