Influenza increases 15 percent among Australians in two weeks

Australians have been warned to brace themselves for winter as new data shows flu cases have increased by 15 percent in the past two weeks.

Influenza increases 15 percent among Australians in two weeks

Paul Griffin, a University of Queensland infectious disease physician and clinical microbiologist told NCA NewsWire that the Australia experience with the flu was “truly unique” as cases continued to climb in June.

“It’s not what we would normally see in terms of the usual seasonality,” he said. “We have seen a very strong increase in the number of cases, and given the sensitivity of the population, the impact of those cases has also been greater.

“Normally, we would see the start of the flu season a little lighter and not increase as much as what we have seen this year with an increase in hospitalizations and serious consequences.”

Camera icon Paul Griffin, an infectious diseases doctor at the University of Queensland, warned Australians about the risks of not getting vaccinated. Delivered. Credit: NCA NewsWire

According to the latest data from the Federal Ministry of Health, there have been more than 55,000 flu cases in the past two weeks, bringing the total to nearly 150,000 cases this year.

Despite most states offering free injections in June, vaccination is below the 13.2 million doses administered in 2019 and the record 18 million issued in 2020.

This year, 54 people have died from flu-related deaths so far.

In the past two weeks, 989 people with flu have been hospitalized, 5 percent directly in the ICU.

Experts warn that these numbers are likely underestimated, as many GPs are still reluctant to see patients with respiratory symptoms, raising questions about flu testing rates this year.

“I think if there are barriers that GPs can’t see people with symptoms, that exacerbates some of these challenges. We need to look to address that,” said Professor Griffin.

“We know we can protect our staff with vaccination. While mask mandates have been relaxed, we can use masks to protect our staff and address other risk factors for transmission, such as ventilation.”

Camera Icon Parents are urged to vaccinate their children against the flu. Credit provided: istock

Parents have been warned to vaccinate their children. The latest data from the National Center for Immunization Research and Surveillance and the Australian Immunization Register shows that rates are lowest in children 15 years and younger.

“One of the biggest differences between Covid and the flu is that children don’t contribute that much to the spread of Covid and very, fortunately, have very few serious illnesses, but that’s very different with the flu,” said Professor Griffin.

“Now we see quite high numbers of cases in those groups; they are responsible for many transmissions and can get very seriously ill from the flu.

“It’s disappointing that our vaccination coverage remains low in those groups when we have a flu vaccine available to virtually everyone as young as six months old.”

Lori J. Kile
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