Health authorities have urged parents to enroll young children for flu vaccinations as Australia prepares for a triple outbreak of flu, covid and colds.
New South Wales chief health officer Carrie Chant warned residents that the level of infection among children increases when the flu and Covid combine to create a double infection called “fluron”.
The state suffered from the flu season earlier than expected.
Dr Chant said parents should know that the flu is a “serious disease” for children under five and in some cases can lead to death.
“The flu is actually a pretty serious disease in young children,” she said.
So far this year, eight children have been rushed to hospital with flu-like symptoms, compared to the average no hospitalization in this age group for the same months from 2017 to 2019.
In 2017 and 2018, four children, all under the age of five, died of influenza at NSW.
A recent surge has led doctors across the country to call for the introduction of flu vaccines in public schools as children with flurona continue to end up in hospital.
The chairman of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners in Queensland, Dr Bruce Willett, said the flu could kill children.
“We cannot be satisfied and think that just because the coronavirus was not severe for children, a double infection will not lead to serious health problems,” he said.
“Fluron is unknown, but we know that the flu vaccine is not free for children over the age of five, and it can prevent you from getting a protective shot.”
Society’s low immunity is the result of closed international borders and low levels of influenza vaccination in the country, with many young children having little or no immunity to the virus.
Currently, only three percent of children under the age of five are vaccinated against the flu.
Evidence shows that adolescents and people over the age of 20 are the driving force behind the growth in numbers.
More than 35 Queenslanders have been infected with the virus at the same time, and 14 people have been admitted to hospital since January this year.
In the last week of April, 1,024 new cases of influenza were registered in New Wales, up from 478 the previous week.
A 90-year-old Victorian woman who has not been vaccinated has been confirmed to have her first fluoron death in the state this week.
She died in January and was one of six people in the state who contracted both diseases simultaneously.
Victoria’s health encouraged people to make sure all injections were up to date before the flu season.
“By getting vaccinated against both highly contagious infections, you are not only protecting yourself and those around you, but also helping to ease the pressure on our health care system,” the spokesman said.