Thousands of Australians diagnosed with influenza already in 2017

Health experts encourage people to consider visiting their local pharmacy for a flu vaccination this year after a spike in the number of diagnoses.

An image showing flu vaccine needles

Close up of flu vaccine needles during a staff vaccination clinic at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne in 2014. Source: AAP

Almost 7,000 influenza cases have been diagnosed so far this year, a rise of about 1,000 since the same period in 2016.

This year all pharmacies across Australia will be able to administer a flu shot.

The vaccinations are more accessible than ever – last year only some pharmacies were able to administer a flu shot.

Health experts are asking people to consider using their local pharmacy as an alternative to general practitioners.

“If you find that you are time poor, and you can’t go to your doctor’s surgery to get your flu shot, go to your local pharmacy and get your flu shot as soon as possible before the winter season,” said Rich Samimi, the NSW Branch President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

The vaccination process takes about 15 minutes.

Patients receive an information sheet and a card with the batch number of their vaccine in case they suffer an adverse reaction.

Influenza is responsible for 3,000 Australian deaths annually. The majority of cases are not lethal, but missing a shot can still be serious.

Father-of-three Paul Jans missed his vaccination last year and became ill.

After putting it off for a few days, Mr Jans eventually visited his GP.

“She diagnosed me with a 40-plus temperature and immediately suggested I go to hospital,” he said.

“My temperature was high. I obviously was very congested. I had no energy. I was very lethargic.”

The flu costs the health system $85 million dollars every year and leads to an estimated 1.5 million lost days of work.

Mr Samimi also says that pharmacy vaccinations help “reduce the pressure placed on the already under-pressure GP network”.

Some 62 per cent of Australian have had a flu vaccination at some point in their life, but only 41 per cent were vaccinated last year.

Due to yearly changes in the circulating strains of influenza, annual vaccinations are recommended.

2 min read
Published 23 March 2017 at 6:47pm
By Geordie Crawford