Flu deaths fall after horror year
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.
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