South West residents are being urged to get their flu jabs this year and avoid becoming part of the annual influenza statistics.
South West Hospital and Health Service Executive Director of Medical Services Dr Chris Buck says the region had recorded 5 confirmed cases of influenza so far this year, compared with 17 for the same period last year.
“But notified cases are always only the tip of the iceberg as many cases may not be confirmed as samples may not be sent away for laboratory testing. At this early stage, it’s not possible to say what sort of a flu season we will have this year. However, last year was a bad flu season in the South West region with 528 confirmed cases for the year, compared with 126 cases in 2016.”
Dr Buck says he wants people to start planning now to get vaccinated and it’s a whole family thing.
“While healthy adults usually recover quite well, influenza infection can lead to other medical complications such as pneumonia.The flu can also be high risk for pregnant women, creating a greater chance of serious problems for their unborn babies and possibly leading to premature labour.”
Dr Buck says this year’s vaccine of the flu virus would be available from the second half of April.
A free influenza vaccine is available for all adults aged 65 years and older, all pregnant women, all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 15 years and older, and all individuals 6 months and older with medical conditions predisposing them to severe influenza.
People not covered by the free vaccine will need to pay a fee depending on their individual immunisation provider.
“This year, in addition to the Commonwealth-funded free vaccination program, the Queensland Government is also funding a Childhood Influenza Program for all children aged from six months to under five years.’’
“We know that children contribute greatly to the spread of influenza in the community, and serious complications from influenza can be devastating for children and their families.’
Dr Buck says the influenza vaccine was a safe vaccine for children and should be offered annually to everyone older than six months of age.
“Our message remains the same: get vaccinated every year because it is the best way of protecting yourself against the flu.”
“But we should also not ignore basic practices such as proper hand washing, covering a cough with a tissue or our arm, and staying home when we’re sick. “
• To see a short video on why influenza vaccinations for children are important, visit: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/clinical-practice/guidelinesprocedures/diseases-infection/immunisation/free-influenza-vaccine-for-children