Australia

Only 10 per cent of Australians think kids need the flu vaccine

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A national survey by advocacy group the Immunisation Coalition has found only 10 per cent of Australians believe that children are part of the group that should get the flu jab.

Despite a high rate of flu cases already this year, new research shows the majority of Australians aren’t planning to get a flu shot and only 10 per cent think children should get the jab.

Immunisation Coalition published the figures amid a surge in influenza cases across the country, prompting experts to call for more kids across the country to get vaccinated. 

Melbourne mother Jenny Mangan has two children in childcare and said she was a big believer in vaccinations.

Melbourne mother-of-two Jenny Mangan vaccinates her children.
Melbourne mother-of-two Jenny Mangan vaccinates her children.
SBS News

“The first six months to a year of childcare they’re just sick the whole time and I think it’s good for them to get that exposure," she said.

"You want to protect them as much as possible so they don’t get seriously ill, they just get the normal germs.” 

Official figures show that flu claimed the lives of 1,200 Australians in 2017.

In 2017, children less than 15 years accounted for 27 per cent of all influenza notifications, and 32 per cent of all hospitalisations were in children less than 2 years. 

2019 Immunisation Coalition Influenza Survey facts

  • 39% of adults intend to get an influenza vaccination 
  • 61% of adults do not intend to get an influenza vaccination 
  • Women 55+ have the highest intention: 72% of this age group intends to have the influenza vaccine 
  • Young men have the lowest intention – only 19% have the intent to get the influenza vaccine 
  • 20% get the vaccine to protect themselves – only 10% of people get the vaccine to protect others 
  • Only10% of Australians believe that Kids are part of the groups that should be immunised against influenza 

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners President Dr Harry Nespolon described the figures as disturbing.

"Getting the flu is more dangerous for the child than having the immunisation," he said.

"The immunisation - getting a sore arm is the most common side-effect - is significantly less than having your child end up in hospital.” 

The University of Sydney's Professor Robert Booy described children as "mini bioterrorists".

 

Professor Robert Booy from The University of Sydney.
Professor Robert Booy from The University of Sydney.
SBS News

"They’re snuffly, they don’t wash their hands well, and they can pass it to their mums their dads and other members of their family."

The number of confirmed flu cases so far this year is 28,987. 

The survey showed about 39 per cent of adults intended on getting the flu jab this year.

Australians urged to get their flu shots

Australians are being urged to get their flu shots as winter approaches and the federal health minister says millions of people are entitled to a free vaccination.

"It's important to get vaccinated against influenza every year, as the virus changes year to year," Greg Hunt said in a statement on Sunday.

Elderly Australians continue to experience the worst of the disease with 75 per cent of influenza-associated deaths last year occurring in people 65 and older.

Vaccines are being distributed to states and territories and will be available from mid-April.

Six million doses of influenza vaccine will become available for free for eligible people through the federal government funded National Immunisation Program.

Those eligible for a free flu vaccine include people 65 and over, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from six months and people aged sixth months or older with certain medical conditions which put them at risk of severe influenza.

Pregnant women are also eligible for a free flu vaccine.

Mr Hunt said it is safe to receive the shot at any stage of pregnancy to protect both mother and baby.

Annual influenza vaccination is recommended for anyone six months of age and older.

"Getting vaccinated from mid-April allows protection during the peak influenza transmission period, from around June to September in most parts of Australia," Mr Hunt said

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