Approximately 2,800 Australians Die Each Year From The Seasonal Flu

Approximately 2,800 Australians Die Each Year From The Seasonal Flu

Victoria Minister for Health David Davis

Minister Urges Vaccination Ahead Of Flu Season

Victor P Taffa

Health Minister David Davis has urged Victorians at risk of influenza to be immunised in preparation for the 2011 season.

“Those who are particularly at risk from influenza include people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, indigenous people and everyone aged 65 years and over.” Mr. Davis said.

“Influenza is caused by a highly contagious virus that is spread by coughs and sneezes. Every year it causes widespread illness in the community.”

“Adults and children with chronic illnesses such as asthma, emphysema, lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, chronic liver and kidney disease, all residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities, and people receiving immunosuppressive therapy such as long-term steroids or cancer chemotherapy should be immunised. The vaccine is free for these groups.” Mr. Davis said.

“The free immunisation is also available to all Victorians aged 65 years and older, and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 and over. The vaccine can be obtained by visiting your GP or other immunization provider/s.”

“The vaccine is safe and effective and is recommended for anyone aged six months and over who wants to reduce their risk of becoming ill from the flu this winter.” Mr. Davis said.

The vaccine provides protection from about two weeks after the injection, and lasts for about one year. Even if you were immunised last year, you still need to be protected this winter by having the vaccine again.

The vaccine is available now, so contact your doctor or immunisation provider.

Mr. Davis said flu vaccination is one of the most effective actions in helping fight the spread of infection.

“Approximately 2,800 Australians die each year either directly from the seasonal flu, complications due to flu, or pneumonia.”

“And you can’t get the flu from the flu shot as the vaccine does not contain any active virus.” Mr. Davis said.

In Victoria, under the National Immunisation Program, an annual free influenza immunisation is provided to:

  • Everyone aged 65 years and older;
  •  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over;
  • Pregnant women during any stage of pregnancy;
  •  Anyone from six months of age with heart disease, chronic lung disease, chronic neurological conditions, impaired immunity and/or other chronic illnesses such as diabetes and kidney disease;
  •  Other sufferers of chronic illnesses requiring regular medical follow-up or hospitalisation, such as severe asthmatics that require frequent hospital visits.

As well as the National Immunisation Program, many companies and organisations, including the Department of Health, immunise their workers against influenza.

This helps to avoid downtime through illness, reduces absenteeism and places health and wellbeing of staff as a priority.

In 2010 there were 1,958 notifications of laboratory confirmed influenza in Victoria. In 2009 when Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 took hold there were more than 6,900 laboratory confirmed cases.