Calls For Australian’s To Roll Up Their Sleeves and Get Their Flu Shots

Older active Australians like Stephen are being called on to get their flu shots. Photo: Marian Sampson.

 

WITH COVID-19 and vaccination against the virus that has seen Australian borders slammed shut there are fears around lower than usual rates of vaccination against the flu.

Flu vaccination rates are significantly lower than last year – fewer than one in two Australians working with patients have had their flu vaccine in 2021 – compared with almost more than double that number this time last year (47.6% vs 88.6%)

The current health advice from the Australian Government is that it recommends flu vaccination for everyone aged 6 months and older.

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With winter only days away, we are being reminded that now is the time for Australians who haven’t had their flu vaccine in 2021 to speak to their health care professional.

Only 45% of Australians 18-64 have had their flu vaccine – compared with 71.8% at the same time last year.

66% of Australians 65 and older have had their flu vaccine – compared with almost 90% at the same time last year.

Professor Terry Nolan, public health physician at the Doherty Institute, says getting the flu vaccine remains as important as ever in 2021, given the unpredictability of flu in each year.

“It’s never easy to predict what kind of flu season is ahead of us,” said Professor Nolan.

The impacts of flu should not be underestimated, we were recently reminded of this by Virgin CEO Jayne Hrdlicka who when speaking at a business lunch said, “Some people may die, but it will be way smaller than with the flu.

“We’re forgetting the fact that we’ve learnt how to live with lots of viruses and challenges over the years, and we’ve got to learn how to live with this,” she said.

2019 was one of the worst flu seasons on record with almost 300,000 notifications of laboratory-confirmed influenza to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS) and more than 800 flu-related deaths reported.

Dr Jonathan Anderson, Seqirus Head of Medical Affairs Asia Pacific, said the peak flu season in Australia usually occurs between July and September and there is still time to act to ensure that flu numbers stay as low as possible.

“Achieving high flu vaccination coverage is a key population health strategy for helping to reduce pressure on our hospitals and health care system,” said Dr Anderson.

“Flu vaccination remains as important as ever – while high-rates of vaccination and social distancing had driven down influenza rates last season, we can’t be complacent about the potential impacts of flu.”

 

By Marian SAMPSON

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