Flu death toll rises

Matt Woodley

16/05/2019 12:24:42 PM

Australia’s horror early flu season has continued, with the confirmed number of influenza-related mortalities now at 79.

Australia has had a horror early flu season
At least 17 people have died in South Australia, which has also had reports of flu vaccine distribution issues.

Most recently, Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young revealed there have been 25 deaths associated with influenza in the state this year, as she implored greater uptake of the vaccine.
‘Flu is a serious viral illness. It is not the same as a common cold, and these figures clearly show how serious the complications can be,’ she said.
‘Vaccination is the best way to prevent influenza. I urge all Queenslanders to get vaccinated as soon as possible. If this doesn’t highlight the importance of vaccination against flu, I don’t know what will.’
With nationwide lab-confirmed cases in April nearly seven times higher than the five-year average, most states and territories are urging people to get immunised ahead of the peak months.
Western Australia has targeted the immunisation of children, following Health Minister Roger Cook’s recent revelation that influenza had contributed to a child’s death in March. Less than 20% of WA children were immunised against the flu in 2018, the lowest rate in Australia, and The West Australian is reporting more are seriously ill at Perth Children’s Hospital.
‘During last year’s influenza season, 11% of cases reported in WA were in children under five years of age and 27% of those children were admitted to hospital as a result of their illness,’ Mr Cook said.
Overall there have been more than 43,500 lab-confirmed notifications of influenza nationwide – compared with 58,848 for all of 2018 – with South Australia appearing to be the most affected.
At least 17 people, including 13 in residential aged care facilities and a 15-year-old with no pre-existing conditions, have died in South Australia.
The situation has been exacerbated by vaccine distribution issues, leading the Immunisation Coalition (IC) to hold an emergency meeting to try and determine the issues behind a lack of access to the influenza vaccine.
GP and IC member Dr Rod Pearce told newsGP that aside from distribution issues, conflicting advice and an early flu season have contributed to the more than 12,000 lab-confirmed cases recorded in the state so far.
‘South Australia has for many years had a problem with the distribution centre,’ Dr Pearce said.
‘I’ve spoken with all the suppliers and they’ve said there are plenty coming through the system, it’s having them arrive at the doctor’s desk on time which has been an issue.
‘When we rolled out our meningitis program last October we didn’t have that issue because they were working closely with GPs, but this year there seems to have been some roughness in the distribution.’
Dr Pearce said he knows of multiple practices that have had orders delayed by up to a week due to the issues, and that some GPs were ordering more than required in anticipation of receiving fewer vaccines than they asked for.
‘The vaccines are in the warehouse, but … how it’s distributed seems to be more complicated than most GPs would want, and it seems to be harder than we’d want,’ Dr Pearce said.
According to Federal Health Minister Ken Wyatt, 11.4 million doses of the seasonal influenza vaccines have been released, while 3.8 million doses of the enhanced vaccine for people aged 65 and over are being prepared.
Confirmed state fatalities:

  • QLD: 25
  • SA: 17
  • Vic: 17*               
  • NSW: 9
  • WA: 8
  • NT: 3
  • ACT: 0
  • Tas: N/A**
 *The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services refused to reveal the number of confirmed fatalities. However, an earlier report identified 17 deaths related to influenza in residential aged care facilities.
**The Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services was unable to provide statistics prior to publication.

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Jo   1/07/2019 2:37:51 PM

Hi There,
Can you please publish how many people that died of the flu had been vaccinated against it and how long after getting the fle vaccine did they die. Think it would also be revelant to post that the vaccine only offers around 47% protection and other measures like hand washing and using disfecting wipes to wipe down shopping trolleys and other surfaces should also be put in place. The vast majority of people that die are living in age care facilities so vaccinating them and not putting the other measures in place is not working. Vaccinating DOES not mean that you want get the flu or that you want die from it and people are being given a false sence of security by not telling them them IMPORTANCE of the upmost other measures. The fact that healthy people have died after receiving the flu shot also isnt mentioned. People need to know the truth so they can better protect themselves and others