Flu outbreak warning as vaccine confusion grows
The flu could come back with a vengeance this season as fears rise that Queenslanders wrongly think the COVID-19 vaccine will protect them against influenza.
"Influenza and COVID-19 are both dangerous but separate viruses and an influenza vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu," immunisation expert Professor Robert Booy said.
With vaccine overload, health experts warn against complacency on the flu which can kill as many as 3000 Australians in a year. Those who are due to have their AstraZeneca shots later in the rollout should get their influenza vaccine now.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation recommend a two week gap between having the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine.
The AstraZeneca vaccine will be given in two doses, four to 12 weeks apart.
Flu related deaths fell in 2020 to less than two dozen due to strict social health measures put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The state suffered through the worst flu year in two decades in 2019.
"If we let our guard down, flu can come back with a vengeance," Prof Booy said.
The expert's warning comes as a study into pharmacy customer perceptions around influenza
and COVID-19 vaccinations shows that people aged between 18-49 year old do not understand the risks associated with the flu and 37 per cent of Australians in this age group do not intend to get the flu jab. Those aged 65 and over are more keen with 85 per cent ready to get their shot.
The study was commissioned by TerryWhite Chemmart. Chief pharmacist Brenton Hart said the results highlighted the need for further education around influenza and for people to recognise that vaccination remains a critical component in their arsenal against influenza.
"Influenza is an incredibly infectious and serious respiratory disease, killing on average between 1500 and 3000 Australians annually and yet it is easily preventable with a safe and effective vaccine," he said.
Originally published as Flu outbreak warning as vaccine confusion grows