Winter is Coming: Get your flu shot

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Winter is Coming: Get your flu shot

The Palaszczuk Government has stepped up its efforts in the battle of WinterFlu today with MPs lining up for their flu shots at Parliament House.

More than 9,345 influenza cases have already been confirmed across the state since the start of the year – more than triple the five-year average for the same period.

The Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles led by example by getting their flu jab in Parliament today.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was concerned at the unprecedented number of notifications and urged Queenslanders to get immunised.

“It’s been a horrid year for flu and peak season is still a few months away,” the Premier said.

“The flu shot is by far the best way of ensuring you don’t get sick and end up in hospital, as many Queenslanders already have unfortunately.

“I’m asking Queenslanders who can, to get the flu shot.”

There have been 775 hospitalisations and 68 ICU admissions, so far this year.

Minister Miles said people should take all precautions possible to avoid being infected, including being more vigilant with personal hygiene.

“Now is the time to get your vaccination and protect yourself against infection, keeping in mind it takes between 10 and 14 days to take full effect,” he said.

“Simple things like covering your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing and washing your hands regularly can also help protect people from catching or spreading the flu.

“For some people in high-risk categories, influenza can be deadly so it’s crucial we all play our part to help stop it spreading and reduce its effects on the community.”

Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga said the Palaszczuk Government funds a free flu vaccine for all children aged from six months to under five years.

“My daughter Odette will be getting her free flu shot this year, funded by the Queensland Government,” she said.

“Kids are great at spreading germs, so as a Mum I know its really important to get my child vaccinated against the flu.”

Commonwealth-funded free vaccines are available to eligible people, including:

pregnant women during any stage of pregnancy

people 65 years of age or older

all Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people six months of age and older

people six months of age or older who have certain medical conditions which increase the risk of influenza disease complications.

All other Queenslanders can buy the flu vaccine from their doctor or immunisation provider.

Flu season in Queensland generally peaks during August.

For more details, phone 13 HEALTH, your GP or immunisation provider.

This flu season is already fatal in other parts of Australia

Ten people have died from the flu in South Australia already this year, including a teenager as young as 15 who had no pre-existing conditions.

Experts are baffled over an unprecedented start to the flu season, with more than 10,000 people diagnosed in NSW so far this year — almost three times more than the same period last year.

Key points:

At this time in 2018, 3,803 people had been diagnosed in NSW, but this year that number is 10,121

Nine people have died from the flu in the first four months of the year

NSW Health has 2.5 million flu vaccines at the ready

As NSW Health prepares for the impending peak flu season with 2.5 million vaccinations at the ready, the figures have left health authorities questioning how it will impact the state’s health infrastructure.

The figures, revealed in the NSW communicable diseases report, show 10,121 recorded influenza cases to the end of April.

It is almost triple last year’s influenza figures for the same period (3,803) and is also almost four times the number recorded in 2017 (2,884).

2017 was a record year for the virus, with 103,852 cases reported.

We don’t know what it means because this is a new phenomenon,” NSW Health communicable diseases expert Vicky Sheppard said.

We don’t know if this activity will decrease and then the influenza season will come later in the year or potentially this activity could be ongoing.

We’ve had an unusual start.

What really spreads the flu?

Sneezes, hands or children. When it comes to flu, everybody has their own avoidance tactics.

The NSW figures follow an Australia-wide trend, with influenza figures released in the first week in April showing Australia was nearly halfway towards its 2018 annual total.

Experts predict the flu to kill at least 4,000 people this season.

How deadly is it?

Most deaths from the flu occur in people aged over 65, and are usually from complications such as pneumonia, heart attacks or stroke.

In a busy year, there were a number of people who would be expected to get the flu and die from it.

This year, we expect the flu to kill at least 4,000 people which is the same number as deaths from suicide and the road toll combined,

During most years, 12 Australian children died from the flu.

“If we had a high rate of immunity in kids, it would also stop the spread of the flu to susceptible adults,” he said.

Chair of the Australian Medical Association council of GPs, Dr Richard Kidd, said one in 10 people who died in intensive care from the flu were otherwise healthy.

“More than half of all kids who end up in hospital with the flu were healthy and didn’t have any chronic health conditions,” he said.