Bupa Health Insurance chief medical officer Dr Tony MacDermott said that based on medical modelling from the northern hemisphere’s recent flu season, it was forecast the flu season would arrive in Australia and New Zealand earlier than expected and be worse than last year with a higher rate of hospitalisations.
Dr MacDermott has encouraged people to get vaccinated before the end of May.
“We’re anticipating a perfect storm of flu, COVID-19 and other flu-like viruses to come together this winter,” said Dr MacDermott.
“The best protection will always be prevention, and our advice to people who are due for their COVID booster is to get their flu shot together with their COVID booster ahead of the winter season.
“Each virus is different, affecting individuals in different ways, so it’s important to get both shots - and they’re perfectly safe to receive on the same day.”
Dr MacDermott said it was expected flu trends in the United States, where hospitalisation rates were significantly higher than the year before, would be mirrored in Australia.
“The higher risk of being hospitalised with the flu this year means it’s even more important to get vaccinated, especially for high-risk groups,” he said.
“With Australians effectively back to normal lifestyles we’re expecting to see more COVID and flu cases this year. Our hospitals remain under strain, so protecting yourself and potentially avoiding a hospital visit will also help take some pressure off the health system.”
Bupa said it has started delivering more than 50,000 flu vaccinations to organisations across Australia. They will be delivered onsite at workplaces and universities nationally and by partnering pharmacies across more than 1,900 locations in Australia and New Zealand.