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11 Apr 2018

Get your flu shots … but not too early

The AMA has urged people to wait until at least mid-April before getting flu shots, following a push by some pharmacy chains to get the vaccinations too early.

Some big name pharmacies began advertising in March for people to get their shots to avoid a repeat of last year’s deadly influenza outbreak.

But AMA Vice President Dr Tony Bartone said getting vaccinated for the flu too early could be counterproductive.

He said the vaccine’s effectiveness begins to wear off after three or four months. With the flu’s peak season being from July to September, a March shot was too early.

“If we’re going to maximise our protection before that effectiveness starts to wane, we want to match the timing of the vaccination with the timing of the peak,” Dr Bartone said.

“And for that reason, mid-April onwards is a perfect time to start having your vaccination.”


Feed time at Federal Council

History was made when the AMA Federal Council met at Canberra in March.

For the first time ever (we think), a baby was breastfed during Council proceedings.

While it made no ripple at all, we here at Australian Medicine thought it was so cool that we wanted to let you all know about it.

Dr Jill Tomlinson introduced daughter Anna to the Council on March 16. “She is four weeks old today,” proud Mum told AusMed.

We are not a hundred per cent sure that Anna didn’t vote during the Bupa motions.

PICTURE: Dr Jill Tomlinson and daughter Anna


Culturally safe waiting rooms

The promotion of designated waiting rooms for Aboriginal people in NSW hospitals has been met with a mixed reaction.

The State’s health department undertook research into why Indigenous patients are more likely than non-Indigenous patients to leave waiting rooms without receiving treatment.

The research found that some Aboriginal patients did not feel safe in waiting rooms, sparking calls for “designated Aboriginal waiting rooms” or “culturally appropriate space” for Indigenous patients.

Hanging Aboriginal artwork on waiting room walls could also help, the study concluded.

The recommendations have been both applauded and criticised.

AMA President Dr Michael Gannon said it was good that the concept of cultural safety is entering the popular narrative.

“The truth is that health outcomes for Indigenous Australians are significantly worse than non-Indigenous Australians according to just about every possible metric,” he said.

“The AMA strongly supports Aboriginal control when it comes to primary care and when it comes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders being in larger health facilities like our hospitals, I think we need to do everything we can to make them the appropriate settings for them to seek care.”


Doctors have role to play in drug-free sport

To coincide with the XXI Commonwealth Games, played on the Gold Coast this month, the AMA released its revised Position Statement on Drugs in Sport, and called on both doctors and athletes to ensure the event was free from any banned performance-enhancing drugs.

AMA President Dr Michael Gannon said the Games provided an opportunity to uphold Australia’s reputation for drug-free competition at all levels.

“While some athletes deliberately use prohibited substances to improve their performance, others may inadvertently ingest a banned substance in a prescription or over-the-counter medication,” he said.

“Doctors have an important role to play in reducing the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sport, and in helping athletes to avoid unwittingly taking banned substances in otherwise legal medications.”

The AMA Position Statement on Drugs in Sport – 2018 can be read in full at:


Published: 11 Apr 2018