Health insurer HBF is urging West Australians to take advantage of the state government’s free influenza vaccination offer.
The offer comes as statistics show flu notifications in the state during March and April have been the highest in the past six years.
During May, everyone in Western Australia can receive a free flu vaccine.
HBF medical director Dr Andy Papa-Adams said while the flu season typically ran from June to October, there were signs it may have already begun.
“The rate of influenza notifications to the Department of Health was 71 per cent higher in March and 26 per cent higher in April this year than the highest rate reported in the same months in the preceding six years,” he said.
“Flu is different to a cold and can have significant complications, even in people who are normally well.
“When you get vaccinated, you not only protect yourself but also those around you who are more vulnerable such as babies and children, the elderly, women who are pregnant, and anyone with reduced immunity.”
He continued, “It’s now three years since the pandemic was declared and with international travel resuming and life returning to relative normalcy, it’s easy to overlook the importance of protecting yourself and others through vaccination.
“It’s also important to note that having your COVID-19 booster does not cover you for flu and vice versa.
“You can have flu and COVID-19 at the same time and evidence suggests this makes people sicker than having either virus on its own.
“Given a number of those who contract influenza will end up in hospital, it’s important we do as much as we can to reduce the number of hospital admissions this winter and ensure beds are free for those who need it due to other illnesses. HBF strongly urges people to receive their flu vaccine at the same time as their COVID-19 booster if they are due for the booster - Federal Government advice is that co-administration is safe and produces a good immune response.”