Flu season has well and truly arrived. With cases in Queensland doubling every week, and 151 people hospitalised so far — 10 of which were in intensive care — the state government announced Monday, May 23 they will offer state residents free flu shots.
From now until June 30, people aged six months and older will be able to get the vaccine protecting them against Influenza A from their local GPs or pharmacies.
“Case numbers are climbing earlier than expected,” said Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
Queensland, this is important. We are concerned with the rate that flu cases are spreading. Influenza A cases have doubled in Queensland every week and we’ve seen a jump from 1,848 to 4,282 in the past seven days alone. https://t.co/0XMzPQ9Zrs
— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) May 23, 2022
“We are seeing the impacts on our hospitals and if we don’t get a vaccinated community with the flu vaccine, we are going to see escalating numbers in our hospitals. So, we need to do a pre-emptive strike now — we need to make sure we have this preventative measure in place.”
Palaszczuk went on to say the flu season this year is comparable to that of 2017 when more than 750 people were admitted to the ICU with influenza. She added that young people aged between 10 and 39 were particularly at risk.
So, why the surge? Well, we haven’t been exposed to influenza as much in recent years, said Deputy Chief Health Officer Peter Aitken. “It’s much harder to access flu vaccination, and our rates are much, much lower,” he said.
“The fact that more than 4,000 cases have already been detected when flu seasons don’t usually begin until late July is very concerning,” she said.
“Ninety-eight per cent of our flu cases this year are Influenza A. Compared to the 2017 flu season’s hospital admission rates, we are already at the admission rate that we saw at the end of July in 2017, which means this is escalating very quickly.”