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Dramatic drop in Victorian flu cases attributed to high vaccination rate


Amanda Lyons


24/09/2018 3:18:32 PM

An 85% decrease in flu cases across the state has encouraged the Victorian Government to continue funding influenza vaccines for children under five.

Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy believes free flu vaccinations should be extended to children throughout the country. (Image: Stefan Postles)
Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy believes free flu vaccinations should be extended to children throughout the country. (Image: Stefan Postles)

Last year saw a ‘horror’ flu season in which more than 48,000 cases were reported within Victoria.
 
Hospitals and GPs experienced record demand and the number of influenza-related deaths increased across the country, including among people outside of traditionally vulnerable populations such as the very young or the very old.
 
In response, the Victorian Government spent $3.5 million to offer free influenza vaccinations for children in 2018 and, according to Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy, the results of this decision are clear.
 
‘The data says it all: vaccinations save lives,’ she said. ‘More Victorians than ever before are getting vaccinated against the flu, and it’s meant massive reductions in flu representations.’
 
Over 1.7 million free doses of flu vaccine have been administered across Victoria this year, and presentations have dropped by 85% compared to last year.
 
Minister Hennessy is pleased with the results and believes free flu vaccinations for children – which have also been made available in Tasmania, New South Wales and South Australia – should be offered across the nation and funded by the Federal Government.
 
‘We will put our hand up for yet another year to fund that flu vaccination, but ultimately we want to see these things rolled out under the national immunisation program,’ she told the ABC.
 
RACGP President-Elect Dr Harry Nespolon agrees there is case to be made for a wider application of free flu vaccination.
 
‘There’s no doubt there is the herd immunity argument for getting as many people immunised as possible,’ he told newsGP.
 
‘There’s always the other side of it, there’s always a cost involved, but flu vaccinations in general are relatively inexpensive on a one-to-one basis.

‘Although if you go to two million people it makes it a much more expensive program.’
 
Dr Nespolon also raised the issue of how far immunisations should be extended.
 
‘Thinking about whether or not you should immunise parents of young children, for example, as part of a program to limit spread to a particularly at-risk group, which is children under five,’ he said. ‘Of course they can be immunised themselves, but the more people get immunised, the better it is.’



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