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Free flu vaccinations offered to Queenslanders as case numbers soar

ABC News logo ABC News 23/05/2022 By Phoebe Hosier
Health Minister Yvette D'Ath urged people to get vaccinated earlier this month. (Twitter: Annastacia Palaszczuk) © Provided by ABC Health Health Minister Yvette D'Ath urged people to get vaccinated earlier this month. (Twitter: Annastacia Palaszczuk)

Queenslanders are being offered a free flu vaccine in a bid to protect against Influenza A as case numbers surge across the state.

People aged six months and older will be able to get a free flu vaccine from now until mid-June from their local GPs and pharmacies.

It comes amid a major outbreak that had seen more than 4,000 flu cases already reported this year.

Queensland Health have warned cases have been doubling every week — increasing from 1,848 cases to 4,282 in the latest data released last week.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she had taken the "unprecedented" decision to protect people amid low rates of immunity.

"Case numbers are climbing earlier than expected," she said.

"We are seeing the impacts on our hospitals and if we don't get a vaccinated community with the flu vaccine, we are going to see escalating numbers in our hospitals.

"So we need to do a pre-emptive strike now — we need to make sure we have this preventative measure in place."

Ms Palaszczuk said 151 people had been hospitalised with the flu so far, while 10 were in intensive care.

"The flu season this year is significantly bad and it's comparable to the season we had in 2017," she said.

Ms Palaszczuk said young people aged between 10 and 30 were particularly at risk and warned symptoms would be similar to COVID-19.

She said cost-of-living pressures were another reason she sought to make the vaccine accessible to all.

Since the onset of the pandemic, COVID-19 health measures had reduced flu cases to almost nil.

Concern about children contracting Influenza A

Influenza A was more severe than Influenza B and will lead to more hospitalisations, Acting Queensland Chief Health Officer Peter Aitken said.

"Vaccination rates for children six months to less than five years of age is just 6 per cent," Dr Aitken said.

He urged parents to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible as the virus commonly affects young people and older Australians.

Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said the 2017 flu season saw more than 750 people in intensive care.

"Our 2019 season saw about 300 people," she said.

"The fact that more than 4,000 cases have already been detected when flu seasons don't usually begin until late July is very concerning," she said.

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