With the 2020 flu season almost upon us, Member for Barker Tony Pasin is encouraging residents in Barker — and those with particular vulnerabilities — to arrange vaccination against seasonal influenza.

“Residents should speak to their GP, pharmacist or aged care provider to arrange a flu vaccination if they haven’t already,” Mr Pasin said.

Whilst flu vaccination does not prevent against COVID-19, a flu vaccination is critical to protecting the general health of Australians from influenza, which can take between 100 to 1,000 lives per year depending on the severity.

Expert medical advice is that everyone aged six months and over should be vaccinated against influenza this year, and every year, to protect themselves and others in the community.

From 1 May 2020, all aged care workers and visitors must have been vaccinated against seasonal influenza to enter an aged care facility.

“Our Government has invested more than $80 million to provide more free vaccines under the National Immunisation Program in 2020, including a new quadrivalent vaccine Fluad Quad® for people aged 65 years and over.”

While Mr Pasin acknowledged that the South Australian Department of Health are working through some distribution issues within SA he said that the Federal Government had secured over 13.5 million doses of seasonal influenza vaccines for the National Immunisation Program and the private
market in 2020, and there was certainly no national supply issue.

This includes over 4 million doses of Fluad Quad® for those aged 65 years and older which is enough to vaccinate close to 100% of the cohort.

The National Immunisation Program provides free vaccines to those most at risk, including:
– Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy;
-All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged six months and older;
– People aged 65 years and older;
-People aged six months and older with certain medical risk factors; and
-For the first time, all children aged between six months and five years.

Influenza vaccines are also available through state and territory programs, and through private providers including GPs and community pharmacy.

Receiving a vaccination early in the season provides optimal protection in the peak period of influenza circulation, usually from June to September in most parts of Australia.

“Vaccinated societies are healthy societies. This year it is even more important to be vigilant about the flu because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While there is not yet a vaccine or effective treatment for COVID-19, vaccination provides does provide an effective defence against the flu,” Mr Pasin said.

“Vaccinating against the flu will reduce the risk of a very dangerous double-up of flu and coronavirus—both diseases affecting the respiratory system- which is why a flu shot is so important.”

Vaccinated people of all ages are less likely to get the flu and if they do, are less likely to have a severe case. Fewer cases and fewer severe cases of flu will result in less demand on our health care system.

Fortunately, most cases of COVID-19 in Australia so far have been mild, with only around 10 per cent of infected people requiring hospitalisation. This could change if people already made vulnerable by the flu also contract COVID-19.

More information on the flu is available at: https://www.health.gov.au/healthtopics/immunisation/immunisation-services/flu-influenza-immunisation-service.