The Immunisation Coalition says it is concerned that many Australians remain unprotected against high levels of influenza still circulating within our communities.
It said that of particular concern are the high levels of the influenza B strain which is often responsible for causing serious illness in children. With 187,000 laboratory-confirmed cases this year, almost half have been recorded in children aged under 15.
The Coalition said it applauds the Queensland and Western Australian governments for providing free flu vaccines for all of their constituents, but believes there should be better planning and coordination between all states.
It has also urged all states and territories to offer the same free flu vaccine programs for the remainder of this winter.
According to Coalition CEO Kim Sampson, “We were pleased with Queensland’s announcement, and Western Australia's decision to extend its free program through to June. However, it is disappointing that all states have not done the same, and in a coordinated way.”
Dr Rodney Pearce AM, a leading expert and chairman of the Coalition, said, “While we can never predict how a flu season will pan out, we do know that vaccination is the best way to control the outbreak. Free flu vaccines for everyone would make an enormous difference.”
Mr Sampson continued, “It is likely we will exceed 250,000 cases this year, which is far too high. Enormous effort goes into planning vaccine supply each year, and these ad hoc decisions by governments can undermine all of the painstaking work that has been undertaken. The number of confirmed cases should never get this high."