Warnings of ‘monster flu season’

DOCTORS are urging Australians to prepare for a potential resurgence of influenza (flu) and get vaccinated early with fears of a potentially monster flu season ahead.

The pandemic has led to decreased exposure to the influenza virus and lower influenza vaccine coverage compared to previous years.

But with an end to lockdowns and state and international borders reopening, a resurgence of influenza is expected in 2022.

Doctors say the best way to combat the flu is to get vaccinated before the season begins which is usually from June to September.

The influenza vaccination program will commence in April, providing protection before the peak of the expected season. 

The annual Influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone aged six months or older and iss free under the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for children aged six months to five years and adults 65 years and over, as well as pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people with certain medical conditions.

RACGP President Professor Karen Price urged Australians to prepare for the influenza season.

“GPs are concerned about this year’s flu season because Australians haven’t been exposed to the virus for the past two years like we were in the years before the pandemic.” she said.

“Children born since the start of the pandemic are likely to have had no exposure to the influenza virus in their lifetime, meaning it’s now more important than ever to ensure they are protected.

“Flu is something to be taken seriously – in 2019, just before the pandemic, there were 953 influenza related deaths in Australia. And we are already starting to see cases in some parts of the country.

Consumers Health Forum CEO, Ms Leanne Wells said that Australians should continue to follow health advice as winter approaches and the flu season emerges.

“Australians have taken up vaccination at record rates to protect themselves against the COVID-19 virus, and due to this, the worst predictions of severe illness and death have not happened,” said Ms Wells.

Diabetes Australia Group CEO Justine Cain urged all Australians living with diabetes to make an appointment to get their flu vaccine as soon as possible.

“Flu is a highly infectious disease that can make anyone sick, but people living with all types of diabetes are at a much higher risk of developing serious health complications than people without diabetes,” Ms Cain said.

“For some people living with diabetes flu can even be life-threatening so please get your flu vaccine, schedule your COVID booster and keep yourself healthy this flu season.”