Though flu is tearing through the community, it’s not too late for Australians to get vaccinated, says one stakeholder body
The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia is reinforcing the importance of getting the influenza vaccination even though the season has already well and truly started, in addition to following basic hygiene guidelines, as best practice.
It is estimated that, each year, influenza causes an average of 13,500 hospitalisations and more than 3,000 deaths among Australians aged over 50 years; however the 2019 season has been particularly severe, with a total of 135,952 laboratory confirmed notifications of influenza in Australia for 2019, as of the start of 11 July.
RCPA spokesperson, Clinical Professor David Smith, Clinical Microbiologist/Virologist in the Division of Microbiology and Director of the National Influenza Centre at PathWest QEII Medical Centre highlighted the importance of vaccination to consumers.
“Influenza is notoriously difficult to predict, and this years’ season started earlier than usual with a high circulation of two viruses which are causing problems; an influenza A/H3N2 strain and an influenza B strain,” he said.
“However, we won’t really know how bad the season will be until later when we know how big the peak of the season is and how long it lasts.
“We can’t be sure whether a season is going to be mild, moderate or severe, so if people wait until we know how bad it is going to be, then their vaccination will be too late to give them protection throughout the season,” said Prof Smith.
He said that most people who are generally healthy will not need to see a doctor for the flu. These people should try to rest, maintain a good fluid intake, and manage their symptoms.
Those who are concerned should visit their GP, and immediate medical attention should be sought if any of the following symptoms are present:
- difficulty breathing;
- chest pain;
- sudden dizziness;
- severe vomiting; and/or
- fever with a rash.