De­cline in Aussie flu fatal­i­ties

Sunday Territorian - - NEWS -

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

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

There were 73 deaths from in­fluenza in the lat­est sea­son, which peaked in early Septem­ber.

It com­pares to 1137 deaths from the res­pi­ra­tory ill­ness in 2017, the worst sea­son in al­most a decade.

In to­tal, 52,000 cases of the flu were re­ported in 2018, com­pared to nearly 250,000 cases in the same pe­riod last year.

Mr Hunt said the 2017 sea­son spurred the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to pro­vide en­hanced 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 se­cure 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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