The RACGP has criticised flu vaccine providers who are encouraging patients to be vaccinated now
The group’s president, Dr Bastian Seidel, says is concerned that “some influenza vaccine providers” are advising patients to be vaccinated now, which could put them in danger.
“Urging patients to receive their flu vaccination too early in the year may put them at serious risk,” Dr Seidel says.
“The last thing we want to see this year is patients doing the right thing and receiving a flu vaccination, only for the vaccination wear off by the time we reach flu season.”
Dr Seidel is calling on Australians not to be vaccinated early, as this could result in poorer health outcomes. The RACGP is also encouraging Australians to see their “specialist GP” for a vaccination instead of other providers.
“Typically, flu season affects Australia from June to September, with the peak being August,” Dr Seidel says.
“Recent evidence suggests that protection following flu vaccination may begin to wear off after three to four months, so timing of vaccination is critical.”
He says that specialist GPs are “best placed” to advise patients on the timing of vaccination.
Dr Seidel also called again on the Federal Government to provide a government-subsidised influenza vaccination program for all Australians.
“Influenza vaccines should be available to every Australian through their GP this winter,” Dr Seidel says.
“A government-subsidised flu vaccination program would cost far less than the economic losses from the 3000 deaths a year, mounting hospital and health bills, and lost work productivity.
“We are seeing the same story every year – on average 3,000 deaths a year, 18,000 hospital admissions and 350,000 Australians affected by the flu – this is completely unacceptable in 2018 and it is time our political leaders commit to safeguarding Australians from the flu.”
The call follows a particularly bad flu season in Australia in 2017, when 249,882 laboratory confirmed notifications of influenza were made. The Northern Hemisphere has also been suffering through a bad flu season.
Several states have funded free flu vaccines for children aged five years and under, and called on the Federal Government to extend the program further.