IF you want to avoid the serious effects of some contagious and dangerous diseases the message is to be vaccinated at your local GP clinic.

The government National Immunisation Program is supporting free Zostavax vaccination against shingles for anyone aged between 70-80 years of age. This is a very painful and debilitating condition, but can be prevented.

It is also recommended that everyone should protect themselves against influenza with an annual flu shot.

Flu vaccination is available free of charge under the NIP for patients over the age of 65 or in high-risk categories. These include people with diabetes, asthma or COPD (emphysema), pregnant women, with low immunity, on cancer medications and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people outside the 5-15 age group.

Non-NIP vaccinations are also usually available at highly discounted rates.

The government recommends an annual flu shot because the flu virus is constantly changing. Every year, the flu vaccine changes to protect against the flu strains which are most likely to be around during that winter.

All childhood vaccination is free through Medicare and Advantage Medical patients will receive reminders when these vaccinations are due.