RACGP President calls enhanced flu vaccines ‘a step in the right direction’

Paul Hayes

19/02/2018 12:19:32 PM

Dr Bastian Seidel has welcomed the Federal Government’s decision to provide stronger flu vaccines to Australians over the age of 65, but says more must be done to protect all patients ahead of this year’s flu season.

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Dr Seidel maintains that a government-subsidised flu vaccination program – that would help to create herd immunity – would be the most effective approach for the entire Australian population.

The news of ‘enhanced’ flu vaccines being made freely available to Australians aged over 65 has been welcomed by the RACGP, but President Dr Bastian Seidel has cautioned that the strongest vaccines in the world will not be effective if not properly administered to the population.
Dr Seidel has renewed his call for the implementation of a government-subsidised vaccination program that would see all Australians receive a free flu vaccination through their GP.
‘There is no point having a stronger vaccination if a large percentage of our population is not receiving it,’ he said. ‘We need to see our Federal Government further commit to safeguarding Australians from a repeat of last year’s flu season by introducing a government-subsidised flu vaccination program.
‘Influenza vaccines should be available to every Australian through their GP this winter, not just those over the age of 65.’
The new vaccines – Fluad and Fluzone High Dose – will be available through the National Immunisation Program (NIP) from April following a recommendation from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).
The introduction of these stronger vaccines comes after Australia’s worst ever flu season in 2017, which included more than 217,000 confirmed cases – a massive jump from the 2015 record of 100,000. These numbers included more than 1000 flu-related deaths, 90% of which were people aged over 65.
‘Introducing these vaccines was a response to the poor protection we had in the elderly last year,’ Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy said. ‘We are pretty confident this will be better protection.
‘No flu vaccine is complete protection – the standard vaccine seems to protect well in younger people – but we are confident this will give better protection for the elderly.’
Dr Seidel maintains that a government-subsidised flu vaccination program – that would help to create herd immunity – is the most cost-effective approach for the Australian population, ultimately costing less than the significant economic losses attributed to mounting hospital and health bills, as well as lost work productivity.
‘Creating herd immunity will impede the spread of flu across the community. It will protect those who are vulnerable to influenza, like children and the elderly,’ he said.

Fluad flu-vaccine Fluzone-High-Dose vaccination-program


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