Flu deaths fall af­ter hor­ror year

Sunday Herald Sun - - News -

THE flu killed far fewer Aus­tralians in 2018 than it did last year, as the num­ber of cases re­ported fell dra­mat­i­cally.

The de­cline be­tween the two years is a timely re­minder that vac­ci­na­tions work, Health Min­is­ter Greg Hunt said.

There were 73 deaths from the virus in the lat­est sea­son, which peaked in early Septem­ber — com­pared with 1137 in 2017, the worst sea­son in al­most a decade.

In to­tal, 52,000 cases of the res­pi­ra­tory ill­ness were re­ported this year, com­pared with nearly 250,000 cases last year.

Mr Hunt said the 2017 sea­son spurred the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to pro­vide more vac­cines for the el­derly.

More than 3.4 mil­lion ex­tra doses were made avail­able, al­low­ing more than 85 per cent of peo­ple aged 65 and older to be pro­tected. Un­prece­dented de­mand for vac­cines early in 2018 also prompted the gov­ern­ment to pro­vide an ex­tra 1.3 mil­lion doses.

They were made avail­able through the Na­tional Im­mu­ni­sa­tion Pro­gram, state pro­grams and the pri­vate mar­ket.

“The ac­tion our gov­ern­ment took means more fam­i­lies have been spared the tragedy of los­ing some­one they love be­cause of this pre­ventable, in­fec­tious dis­ease,” Mr Hunt said.

MARK Zucker­berg is con­tin­u­ing to come un­der fire, with Italy’s com­pe­ti­tion au­thor­ity fin­ing Face­book €10 mil­lion ($15.8 mil­lion) for sell­ing users’ data without in­form­ing them and “ag­gres­sively” dis­cour­ag­ing users from try­ing to limit how the com­pany shares their data.

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