ACT Health is urging parents to ensure their children have flu shots, with numbers showing fewer vaccinations for this time of year compared with previous seasons and an outbreak of a flu-like illness at a school in the Territory’s south.
The ACT has recorded double the number of flu cases so far this year compared to the same period last year with health experts warning that Australia is in for a ‘killer’ flu season.
According to ACT Health, 237 cases of influenza have been recorded in the ACT this year compared to only 118 cases in the same period between January and April last year.
ACT Health said there were indicators of a slower uptake in the number of kids receiving the free flu jab this year, causing ACT Public Health physician Dr Vanessa Johnston to warn the community of becoming complacent.
“Everyone remembers the horrendous flu season of 2017,” Dr Johnston said.
“As we are already seeing a higher-than-usual number of cases of influenza so far this year, we are reminding the community of the importance of vaccination to protect yourself and your family from getting sick.
“This year we are seeing early signs of a slower uptake in the number of kids under five receiving the free ACT Government-funded flu shot. We are hearing from our Early Childhood Immunisation Clinics that there is less demand for the vaccine compared to the same time last year.
“Young children are at a higher risk of serious complications from influenza, such as pneumonia. They are also more likely to spread the flu to others. Getting children immunised also reduces the potential to spread the illness to other vulnerable members of your family, such as grandparents.
“All parents who have children aged six months to under five years are being urged to take advantage of the free flu jab.”
ACT Health said there had been a number of recent cases of influenza-like illness at the Namadgi School in Kambah, and the ACT Health Protection Service and the Education Directorate was working closely with the school.
Dr Johnston said ACT Health was gathering more information to determine if the cause of these illnesses was the flu or another respiratory virus.
To get your child vaccinated phone the Community Health Intake (02 5124 9977) to make an appointment at an ACT Government Early Childhood Immunisation Clinic between 8 am and 5 pm, Monday to Friday and 8 am to 3:30 pm on Wednesday, or make an appointment with your GP (a consultation fee may be charged).
Visit the ACT Health website for more information.