Parents of children under five are being urged to have their children vaccinated against flu, as notifications continue to ramp up.
Medical Director of the Immunisation Program, Dr Jonathan Malo said children under five have a much higher risk of complications from the flu and contribute to the spread of flu in the community.
"So far this year, we've received 2,203 lab-confirmed flu notifications for children younger than five years, including 169 admissions to public hospitals with ten in ICU," he said.
"We know this age group is particularly susceptible to potentially fatal complications from flu, such as sepsis and pneumonia, because their immune system is still developing, and they may lack previous exposure to flu.
"The flu vaccine is free for children aged six months to less than five years and I urge parents, if they haven't done so already, to book their children in for a flu vaccine.
"The vaccine is safe and one of the best ways to protect children from flu.
"So far this year, immunisation providers have ordered almost 1.3 million doses of influenza vaccine, including more than 109,000 paediatric flu vaccines, so there is vaccine available.
"In 2018, around a quarter of Queensland children aged six months to less than five years received a flu vaccine - we would really like to see that number much higher this year."
It is important for parents to know that, if their child is aged between six months and nine years and it's the first time their child is receiving a flu vaccine, they will need two doses, with the second given four weeks after the first. In subsequent years, they only need one flu vaccination.
Dr Malo said Queensland is experiencing a much higher number of notifications this year compared to previous years.
So far this year, there has been 23,947 lab-confirmed flu cases across the state - almost five times higher than the five-year average for this time of year.
This includes 1,493 hospitalisations, 145 people admitted to ICU, and sadly, at least 51 influenza-associated deaths.
In Queensland, those eligible for the government-funded vaccine include:
- all children aged six months to less than five years
- pregnant women during any stage of pregnancy
- persons 65 years of age or older
- all Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people six months of age and older
- persons six months of age or older who have certain medical conditions which increase the risk of influenza disease complications.
All other Queenslanders can purchase the vaccine from their doctor or immunisation provider.
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