Have you got your flu shot yet?
Data shows that Gippslanders are lagging in receiving a flu jab this year and are being urged to get vaccinated before we hit the peak of this year’s flu season.
“The flu season typically goes through to mid-September so there’s more than two months where people will be at increased risk,’ said Dr Alex Tai, Infectious Diseases Physician from the Gippsland Region Public Health Unit (GRPHU).
While all ages should be getting vaccinated, the highest number of reported cases in Gippsland this year to date is in the under 9 age group.
“Across regional Victoria we see that under 5s are less vaccinated against flu than previous years” said Katie Walker, Senior Epidemiologist, GRPHU. Current data shows that approximately 15% of those aged under 5 years have had the influenza vaccine this year.
“With vaccination rates lower than previous years, more people are at risk of catching the flu, putting themselves and their family at greater risk of serious illness,” added Dr Tai.
While the flu can present as a minor ailment for some people it can have serious consequences for children and those with pre-existing conditions.
Free seasonal influenza vaccine is funded under the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for the following groups at higher risk of complications from influenza:
People aged six months to less than five years (can be given at the same time as childhood vaccines)
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged six months and older
Pregnant women (can be given at any stage of each pregnancy)
People aged 65 years and older (a vaccine that is specifically designed to produce a higher immune response is available for this group).
People aged six months and older with medical conditions putting them at increased risk of severe influenza and its complications.
“Getting the flu jab this year will help keep you safe, it will protect your family and the community,” concluded Dr Tai.
More information can be found at Seasonal influenza vaccine (health.vic.gov.au)