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Stronger flu vaccinations for Australians over the age of 65

26 February, 2018

The Royal Australia College of General Practitioners welcomes the Turnbull Government’s decision to provide stronger free flu vaccines to all Australians over the age of 65, but says more must be done to protect patients and save lives ahead of this year’s flu season.

RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel said the February 18 announcement was a step in the right direction, but a government subsidised flu vaccination program must be introduced so all Australians can receive a free flu vaccination through their GP.

“Now we need to see our Federal Government further commit to safeguarding Australians from a repeat of last year’s flu season by introducing a government-subsidised flu vaccination program for all Australians,” Dr Seidel said.

“Influenza vaccines should be available to every Australian through their GP this winter, not just those over the age of 65.”

Dr Seidel said 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 over and over again, on average 3000 deaths a year, 18000 hospital admissions and 350000 Australians affected by the flu,” Dr Seidel said.

“It is in the best interest of the people of Australian that our government extend today’s announcement of free flu vaccinations for those over 65 years to every Australian.”

Dr Seidel said the ‘ground-breaking’ new flu vaccinations highlighted in the Government’s announcement would provide little benefit for the community if they were not received by all Australians.

“There is no point having a stronger vaccination if a large percentage of our population is not receiving it,” Dr Seidel said.

“Creating herd immunity will impede the spread of flu across the community.

“It will protect those who are vulnerable to influenza, like children and the elderly.”

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Bruni Brewin | Tuesday, February 27, 2018, 11:16 AM
I would query, why when we are already strapped for money in the health system and the peak of our bad flu season seems to have passed in most, if not all, parts of Australia. The total number of flu deaths is not yet known, Figures collected by ABC 7.30 at the end of September 2017 showed there had been more than 370 confirmed influenza deaths recorded in four states so far. Many of these were in aged care facilities. A far cry from; Quote"“We are seeing the same story over and over again, on average 3000 deaths a year, 18000 hospital admissions and 350000 Australians affected by the flu,”Unquote. I would like to see the research, year by year of actual numbers to substantiate that. The most recent Australian Influenza Surveillance Report described the clinical severity of flu this year was "low to moderate". This year, the strain of flu that dominated in Australia (H3, a type of influenza A) is one known to cause more significant illness in the elderly. Why are we wanting to vaccinate everyone? Every individual has to weigh up the potential risks and benefits of the flu vaccine for themselves. I hope that research, not hearsay, or scaremongering is given to people to make a valid informed choice. "My own personal view is you've missed the boat," Professor Collignon says. "The vaccine takes at least two weeks to work. "I would think it's very unlikely we're going to have large numbers of flu cases two to three weeks from now."
Luke | Wednesday, February 28, 2018, 3:59 AM
Why do people refuse to spend $10 to $20 on an influenza vaccine? It's not an expensive vaccine at all.