PARENTS of children under five are being urged to have them vaccinated against the flu, as the number of confirmed cases skyrockets.
So far this year, 2,203 children aged four and under have been diagnosed with the flu in Queensland. That’s 858 more confirmed cases than this time last year.
Of those, 169 were admitted to hospital, with 10 placed in Intensive Care.
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Statewide, there have been 23,947 lab-confirmed cases in people of all ages, almost five times higher than the five-year average for this time of year.
This includes 1,493 hospitalisations, 145 people admitted to ICU, and sadly, at least 51 deaths.
Medical Director of the Immunisation Program, Dr Jonathan Malo said children under five have a much higher risk of complications from the flu and contribute to the spread of flu in the community.
“We know this age group is particularly susceptible to potentially fatal complications from flu, such as sepsis and pneumonia, because their immune system is still developing, and they may lack previous exposure to flu,” he said.
“The flu vaccine is free for children aged six months to less than five years and I urge parents, if they haven’t done so already, to book their children in for a flu vaccine.
“The vaccine is safe and one of the best ways to protect children from flu.
“So far this year, immunisation providers have ordered almost 1.3 million doses of influenza vaccine, including more than 109,000 paediatric flu vaccines, so there is vaccine available.
“In 2018, around a quarter of Queensland children aged six months to less than five years received a flu vaccine – we would really like to see that number much higher this year.”
Children aged between six months and nine years receiving the vaccine will need two doses, with the second given four weeks after the first. In subsequent years, they only need one flu vaccination.
Dr Malo said Queensland is experiencing a much higher number of notifications this year compared to previous years.
Statewide, there have been 23,947 lab-confirmed flu cases in people of all ages, almost five times higher than the five-year average for this time of year.
This includes 1,493 hospitalisations, 145 people admitted to ICU, and sadly, at least 51 influenza-associated deaths.
In Queensland, those eligible for the government-funded vaccine include:
- all children aged six months to less than five years;
- pregnant women during any stage of pregnancy;
- persons 65 years of age or older;
- all Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people six months of age and older; and,
- persons six months of age or older who have certain medical conditions which increase the risk of influenza disease complications.
All other Queenslanders can purchase the vaccine from their doctor or immunisation provider.