- Additional influenza vaccine stock now available
- More than 1,300 Western Australians hospitalised due to the flu last year
- Influenza vaccine is available free to at-risk groups
- It is not too late to get vaccinated to ensure protection through the peak flu season
Western Australians who have not been vaccinated this year are encouraged to act now to ensure they are protected during the peak of this year's flu season.
Influenza is a highly contagious disease. While most people will recover in several days, some people will develop complications, possibly requiring hospitalisation and sometimes resulting in death. Complications of the flu can include pneumonia, inflammation of the heart, brain, or muscle tissues, and multi-organ failure.
People most at risk of developing serious health complications include young children and the elderly. People with certain medical conditions are at higher risk.
In 2017, there were 6,044 confirmed cases of flu in Western Australia, with almost 1-in-every- 4 (23%) of these cases requiring hospitalisation, including:
- 44 per cent of people aged 65 years and over
- 27 per cent of children under 5 years of age
In 2018 over 500,000 doses of flu vaccine, funded under the National Immunisation Program (NIP), have already been distributed in Western Australia. The arrival of an additional 33,000 doses in WA this week means there are plenty of supplies to meet anticipated demand, and the total number of flu vaccines in WA under the NIP is up 24 per cent on 2017.
While WA did not experience the same supply problems as the eastern states, the Department of Health carefully monitored vaccine availability.
The flu vaccine is available free through immunisation providers, including GP clinics, community health clinics or Aboriginal Medical Services for eligible at-risk groups. These include young children, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, pregnant women, people aged 65 years and above and those with chronic medical conditions.
People not eligible for the free vaccine can get it through their GP or at a participating chemist. Some private providers may charge a fee to administer the flu vaccine and people are advised to discuss this with their doctor or immunisation clinic when making an appointment.
Anyone with concerns about whether they, or members of their family, should get vaccinated should discuss this with their GP.
Comments attributed to Health Minister Roger Cook:
"Each year our hospital Emergency Departments are put under additional pressure during the peak flu season, due to patients presenting with flu and flu-like symptoms.
"With the onset of colder weather we expect to see an increase in influenza cases, this year's flu season is expected peak in August so there's still time to get vaccinated.
"Given the seriousness of the disease, it is important that people ensure they get the flu vaccine. Even if you are young and healthy or you rarely get sick, getting vaccinated helps to protect others in the community who are at increased risk of flu complications.
"Western Australia has now received additional vaccine stock from the Commonwealth, so if you have not yet been vaccinated, now is the time to do it."
Minister's office - 6552 6500