Press Release, Victoria State Government, Dept of Health, 26 June 2024: Victorian parents are being urged to book their children in for their free flu vaccination, as cases of the virus surge across the state and concern grows around low vaccination coverage.

The Department of Health’s latest surveillance data shows notified cases have increased across all age groups, with the biggest increase in those aged under five – up 37 per cent in the fortnight ending 15 June.

Meanwhile, just 23 per cent of Victorians aged under five have had their free annual flu vaccination this season.

Chief Health Officer Dr Clare Looker said flu cases had quadrupled between April and June, with a six-fold increase in the number of presentations to Victorian emergency departments.

“We’re expecting flu cases to keep rising in the weeks ahead so it’s critical people book in their flu vaccination now, particularly for those groups at higher risk of severe illness such as children,” Dr Looker said.

“The flu vaccination is free for children and other high-risk groups and is widely available across GPs, pharmacists and other providers.”

Dr Looker said the flu vaccine provided the best protection against infection and severe illness.

“Flu is highly contagious and while most people may only experience mild to moderate symptoms, for some it can be deadly.”

The flu vaccine is free for people at higher risk of severe disease, including children under five and people aged 65 and older, as part of the National Immunisation Program.

It is available through your GP, local pharmacy, Aboriginal health service or local council immunisation service.

The rising number of flu cases in Victoria comes at the same time as COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) continue to circulate in the community.

Flu vaccines can be given at the same time as other National Immunisation Program vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines.

In addition to vaccination, simple steps can be taken to stop the spread of respiratory illnesses in the community, such as flu, seasonal respiratory illnesses and COVID-19. This includes washing hands, coughing or sneezing into your elbow, wearing a mask and staying home when sick.

More information on flu vaccination is available on Better Health Channel and Kids Health Information.


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