This illness was ‘worse than childbirth’
HEALTH experts are warning locals to get vaccinated and prepare for a spike in influenza with over 617 cases already confirmed on the Gold Coast this year.
More than 2000 Gold Coasters were last year struck down with the virus, with nearly one-in 10 of those who were hospitalised being admitted to intensive care (ICU).
In 2018 Gold Coasters made up more than 13 per cent of the state's influenza cases, prompting the Pharmacy Guild of Australia to launch a plea to vaccinate against the virus and build "community immunity".
Mother-of-one and Ashmore pharmacy assistant, Tamara-Lee Stubbs, was one of the thousands struck down by the flu in December, while juggling part-time work and raising her two-year-old son.
Accustomed to colds and flus Ms Stubbs was surprised by how hard and fast she deteriorated.
"Within just a few hours of feeling well, I developed a horrendous cough and an extreme heaviness in my chest, like someone was literally sitting on it. Then came the fever and extreme lethargy," Ms Stubbs said.
"I have literally never had such a sore body, I have been through childbirth but this was worse."
"I felt like I was dying."
Ms Stubbs vaccinated prior to the winter of 2018, was diagnosed with a tropical strain of influenza A - she remains an advocate for annual flu vaccination.
"I should have topped up," she said.
"Many people wrongly assume the vaccine will protect them against every possible viral strain, and that's not the case.
"Vaccination does however, protect you against the commonly circulating strains that flu season, and helps to minimise the severity of your symptoms," Ms Stubbs said.
Since 2017 trained community pharmacists have been permitted to administer flu shots in pharmacy, a program which has been credited with a huge drop in the number of flu related deaths due to increased accessibility.
In 2017 1150 Australians lost their lives to the flu but the number dropped by 90 per cent in 2018 to just over 100.
Research has also shown that those vaccinated against the virus were 59 per cent less likely to be admitted to ICU than those who were not.