These Australians are becoming the age groups most at risk for the flu, which is spreading early across the country. But there are ways to avoid it.
Young Australians are becoming the age groups most at risk for the flu as the country begins its early flu season.
National Disease Surveillance data showed that 10,599 cases had been reported this year alone, and 7,173 of them had been diagnosed two weeks before May 8.
According to the Australian Department of Health’s Influenza Surveillance report this year, people aged 15-24 and children under the age of 10 had the highest levels of influenza reports.
Since the start of seasonal follow-up in April, there have been 153 hospitalizations due to influenza, including seven hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit (ARI).
A new weekly report is expected to be released this week, which is expected to show that the upward trend continues.
The annual peak of the flu season typically lasts from June to September, but Australia has not had a typical season since 2019, thanks to Covid-19 restrictions, including a ban on international travel.
In a joint statement, Australia’s Deputy Chief Physician Dr Sonia Bennett and Chief Sanitary and Obstetrician Professor Alison McMillan urged people to maximize their protection against influenza, as well as against Covid, through vaccination.
“Influenza vaccines registered for use in Australia are safe and effective and are the best way to protect yourself from the flu and transmit it to others. If you get vaccinated, you can still get the flu, but it is usually a less serious disease, ”they said.
“Influenza vaccination before the peak of the season will provide the highest level of protection. This usually happens from June to September in most of Australia. It takes up to two weeks for the vaccine to be fully effective, so it is best to get vaccinated by June. ”
They said it was important for people to know that Covid-19 vaccines do not provide protection against the flu, and flu vaccines do not provide protection against Covid-19.
“For this reason, it is very important that people get the flu vaccine and are aware of their Covid-19 vaccinations – including when they are eligible for the Covid-19 winter regulatory dose,” they said.
“If you’ve had Covid-19, you can get the flu vaccine as soon as you feel good.”
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ATAGI) has reported that influenza vaccines can be safely administered concomitantly with the Covid-19 vaccine.
Everyone aged six months and older is recommended to be vaccinated against the flu each year, and all Australians at risk are entitled to a free vaccine under the National Immunization Program.
These include adults 65 years of age and older; children aged six months to five years; pregnant women; Aborigines and Torres Strait residents aged six months; and people aged six months and older with certain diseases that increase the likelihood of severe flu and its complications.
Now the private market also has enough doses of flu vaccine to meet the demand for people who are not eligible for the free flu vaccine but want to protect themselves from the flu. Many employers also offer their employees free flu vaccines.
“This year, we are particularly concerned about young children, as many of them have never had the flu virus and have not had the flu vaccine, and have not developed immunity, which increases the risk of complications. The flu can be serious for all children, even healthy ones, ”said Dr. Bennett and Professor Macmillan.
“Influenza vaccination during pregnancy is safe, free and recommended during every pregnancy and at any stage of pregnancy. Children under the age of six months are too young to get vaccinated against the flu on their own. When vaccinated during pregnancy, protective antibodies are passed on to the baby, protecting it in the first few months of life when it is most vulnerable. ”
In addition to vaccinations, people should continue to practice all prevention measures received from Covid, including covering up coughing and sneezing, washing their hands regularly and staying home if ill, they said.
Originally published as Influenza season 2022: young Australians and children predominate in cases, with more than 7,000 reports in just two weeks