Flu shot 2018: Health Minister Steven Miles urges Aussies to get flu jab

HEALTH Minister Steven Miles has made a plea for Queenslanders to get the flu jab as medical professionals derided Australia’s low influenza immunisation rates during last year’s record season.

A forum of flu experts at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital today was told just 27 per cent of Australians were vaccinated against the flu last year, which saw 56,095 Queenslanders test positive to the virus – more than double the year before.

General practitioner Anita Green, the board chair of the Brisbane North Primary Health Network, described the low flu immunisation take-up as “appalling”.

“It worries me because the flu needs to be taken seriously,” Dr Green said.

More than 6000 Queenslanders required admission to hospital with the flu in 2017.

Across Australia, about 1100 people died from the flu in 2017, about 90 per cent of them aged 65 and older.

Speaking as RBWH workers received flu vaccinations, Mr Miles said last year’s horror season had put a huge strain on the state’s hospitals and the Queensland Ambulance Service.

“We can’t afford to see that happen again,” Mr Miles said. “We need as many Queenslanders as possible to go and get their flu vaccinations.

“I’m urging people of all ages to get vaccinated, especially younger children because they are particularly susceptible.”

The Palaszczuk Government is providing free flu shots to children aged between six months and five years this season.

Mr Miles said the State Government had also introduced rapid flu testing into Queensland’s major public hospitals on the back of the 2017 season.

The machines will inform doctors of a positive flu test within a couple of hours, rather than up to a day.

RBWH emergency specialist David Rosengren welcomed the faster testing, saying it would assist doctors in assessing the seriousness of a patient’s illness and whether they required hospital admission.

He joined Mr Miles in pushing for Queenslanders to get vaccinated against the flu, saying the evidence of its safety and effectiveness is “overwhelming”.

“The higher the proportion of the population that gets vaccinated against these illnesses, the greater benefit that gets transferred to the broader community,” Dr Rosengren said.

Source: news.com.au