In the lead up to winter season here in Australia, many people living with HIV are faced with the risks of two highly contagious respiratory illnesses circulating in the community, influenza (flu) and COVID-19.
According to the World Health Organization, the five ways to protect yourself from the flu or COVID-19 are:
- Get vaccinated
2. Wash your hands regularly
3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
4. Avoid being around sick people
5. If you don’t feel well, stay home
The best strategy to maintain your protection against both infections is through vaccination. Vaccination is a simple, safe, and effective way of protecting your health against air-borne illnesses before you come into contact with them.
The flu vaccine (the flu shot) is free to people over 65 years of age, people with serious health conditions such as HIV, pregnant women and Aboriginal people from 6 months of age. The COVID-19 vaccine or booster is free to everyone in Australia regardless of Medicare or visa status.
If it’s been six months or longer since you received a COVID-19 vaccination or had COVID-19, it’s a good idea to get a booster now. This is basically a top up with the latest COVID-19 vaccine and one of the best ways to maintain your protection against severe illness. The latest COVID-19 boosters help protect against the original strain of COVID-19 and the Omicron variants.
If you test positive for COVID-19, and are eligible for COVID-19 treatments, talk to your doctor so you can access them as quickly as possible. At any time, you can also choose to wear masks in public areas, such as in crowded indoor areas such as public transport, lifts and other high traffic areas to help protect your health.
It’s easy and free to get vaccinated from your local health professional, GP or pharmacist. If you have any questions about COVID-19 call the National Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 020 080, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for assistance.
If you live with HIV and want to find out where you can get a flu shot or COVID-19 booster or vaccination, call Positive Life NSW on 1800 245 677 or (02) 8357 8386 or email firstname.lastname@example.org