Health authorities urge Australians to get vaccinated as death toll rises

As the national death toll passes 300 people, health authorities are again urging Australians to get a flu vaccination.

However, there are growing concerns after World Health Organisation tests have confirmed the H3N2 influenza strain has mutated, potentially impacting the effectiveness of vaccines.

The facts

According to Dr Jeannette Young, Queensland Chief Health Officer, the flu season varies enormously, and we are expecting to experience a worse season this year.

“We are seeing a lot more cases of the flu, around three and half times more than we would expect to see at this time of year,” she said.

Nearly every State and Territory has already surpassed the number of laboratory-confirmed influenza notifications recorded for the entirety of 2018.

South Australia has been the most severely affected with 1,154 reported cases per 100,000 people.

What happens next?

Despite the mutation, health professionals are still urging Australians to get a flu vaccination.

Dr Vicky Sheppeard, NSW Health Director of Communicable Disease, has reminded people the flu vaccine is still the best protection.

“We are again encouraging everyone to take advantage of the flu vaccine as it is still not too late to get vaccinated,” she said.

The home doctor team at House Call Doctor are supporting health authorities in their plea for people to have the flu shot, as entire families are being treated by the after-hours service.

Flu shots are free under the National Immunisation Program for pregnant women, people over the age of 65, Aboriginal people and those with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart problems.

People who become sick are being encouraged to consider all available options, such as their local GP or phone House Call Doctor to take pressure off the emergency departments.

If you think you may have any flu-like symptoms, contact your regular GP.