Get the flu shot early to beat it
4.5m free vaccines
ALMOST 50,000 Victorians battled the flu during last year’s deadly season which claimed more than 200 lives.
Alarming new data shows the flu struck down 250,000 nationwide, the worst season in a decade. More than a fifth were aged over 65.
Health authorities are now urging people to get the influenza vaccine, with the federal government providing 4.5 million free shots to those most at risk, including the elderly and those with chronic conditions.
There were 1100 flu-related deaths across the country last year, 90 per cent of whom were aged over 65 including 10 residents of one aged-care home in Wangaratta.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said two Australian-first vaccines would be made available this year to the over-65s to provide longerlasting targeted protection from deadly strains.
Professor Robert Booy, head of clinical research at the National Centre for Immunisation Research, said while this flu season was predicted to be less severe, it was vital that healthy adults were vaccinated to boost herd immunity.
“If we can get enough people who are healthy, be that children or adults, they will become stops to the transmission of the virus, and therefore protect the vulnerable,” he said.
A new survey of 15,000 adults conducted for the Immunisation Coalition, an independent network of immunologists and GPs, found just over half of adults do not intend to have a flu shot.
Men in their 50s and 60s are most likely to believe the flu shot doesn’t work, while just a quarter of adults say they get the jab every year.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy urged people to get vaccinated from mid-April to ensure they were protected before the peak flu season, June to September.
“Getting vaccinated is not only safe, but is it is the most effective way of protecting yourself,” Prof Murphy said.
“All influenza vaccines available in Australia have been through stringent safety testing by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and continue to be monitored on an ongoing basis.
“The flu jab does not contain any live virus, so you cannot get the flu from the vaccine and we know that high vaccination rates contribute to a healthy community.”