Jim McGinty

Jim McGinty

Attorney General; Minister for Health; Electoral Affairs

    Deadly flu virus warning

    8/05/2005 12:00 AM

    Western Australian seniors are being urged to immunise against the flu with winter less than a month away.

    Health Minister Jim McGinty said free vaccinations were available to people aged 65 and over, who were at the greatest risk of catching influenza and were more likely to end up in hospital suffering complications such as pneumonia and heart failure.

    “Each year in WA, about 10 per cent of the population catch influenza, with about 200 people dying, mostly aged over 60,” Mr McGinty said.

    "It is vital that people aged 65 and over or those with chronic medical conditions such as heart, lung, kidney, liver, immune diseases and diabetes, protect themselves against the flu.”

    Although there is no evidence that an influenza pandemic will occur this year, the State and Federal Governments are preparing for a possible future outbreak of the virus.

    There were three pandemics during the 20th century, with the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 causing 20 to 40 million deaths and the Asian Flu of 1957 and Hong Kong flu of 1968 causing between one to four million deaths world-wide.

    Each year the Commonwealth and State Governments provide free influenza vaccines to people aged 65 years and over, indigenous Australians aged 50 years or over and indigenous Australians aged between 15 and 49 with a high-risk medical condition.

    Mr McGinty said more than 200,000 free influenza vaccines were distributed in WA each year.

    “The more flu vaccinations a senior has over the years, the better the protection they will have from potentially fatal flu,” the Minister said.

    “In the 65 years or older age group, the vaccine is about 80 per cent-effective in preventing death from influenza, 50 per cent effective in preventing hospitalisation, and 30 per cent effective in preventing illness.

    “Anyone in a high-risk group who has not been vaccinated against influenza this year should visit their GP soon.”

    Minister's Office - 9220 5000