Vac­ci­na­tions key to con­tain­ing in­fluenza

The Australian - - THE NATION - SEAN PARNELL HEALTH EDI­TOR

The 2018 flu sea­son is not ex­pected to be as bad as last year, when more than 1000 Aus­tralians died, but ex­perts want more peo­ple vac­ci­nated to pro­tect the broader com­mu­nity.

Robert Booy from the Uni­ver­sity of Syd­ney, the di­rec­tor of the Im­mu­ni­sa­tion Coali­tion, said the strains ex­pected to cir­cu­late this win­ter were un­likely to wreak as much havoc as last year when al­most 250,000 peo­ple fell ill.

With 90 per cent of deaths last year in peo­ple 65 and over, Pro­fes­sor Booy said it was hoped the two new vac­cines specif­i­cally for­mu­lated for older age groups would re­duce the flu im­pact.

He said it was cru­cial that more Aus­tralians, es­pe­cially those with vul­ner­a­ble fam­ily mem­bers, friends, clients or pa­tients, got a flu shot to pro­vide herd im­mu­nity.

“If we can get enough healthy peo­ple vac­ci­nated, they will be­come stops to the trans­mis­sion of virus and there­fore pro­tect the vul­ner­a­ble, be they el­derly or can­cer pa­tients or preg­nant women or ba­bies,” Pro­fes­sor Booy said.

A sur­vey by the Im­mu­ni­sa­tion Coali­tion found that only 44 per cent of Aus­tralians in­tended to have a flu shot this year. About one in five be­lieved it was un­nec­es­sary.

Other in­fec­tious dis­eases also have au­thor­i­ties on alert.

Chief Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer Bren­don Mur­phy yes­ter­day con­firmed two re­cent cases of mul­tidrug re­sis­tant gon­or­rhoea, one in West­ern Aus­tralia and the other in Queens­land. These su­per­bugs are no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult to treat, and have ren­dered most an­tibi­otics treat­ments use­less.

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