Alarming reports have indicated that the number of flu cases in Australia is already 100 times higher than last year.
According to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System, in the year to date (January 1 to April 30, 2023), there have been 32,047 notifications of laboratory-proven influenza, of which 6,098 notifications had a diagnosis date this fortnight.
Seventy-seven per cent of these were influenza A, and the so-called ‘kindy flu’ has been spreading fast through early childhood centres and preschools with the highest rate of infection in people aged five to nine, followed by the 0-4 and the 10-14 years age groups.
“Worryingly, only two per cent of children aged between six months and five years old have received a flu vaccination this year,” says Daniel Seldon from Aussie Pharma Direct.
How to protect yourself from the flu
As we head into winter, the number one priority is to get vaccinated, sooner rather than later.
“The level of influenza in Australia has been significantly lower in the past couple of years due to the measures enforced to protect us from Covid, but now these measures have been relaxed and we are living with Covid, there has been a significant uptick in the flu and other respiratory diseases,” says Seldon.
“It makes sense to do what you can to protect yourself and your loved ones by reinstating the safety protocols we have all become familiar with, such as regular handwashing, physical distancing, using hand sanitiser and wearing a face mask, especially when you are in an enclosed space such as on public transport. People coughing and spluttering around you can quickly spread their germs if you don’t step up your personal protection,” he says.
And it seems people are taking action, with Aussie Pharma Direct noting a 200 per cent increase over the past two weeks in the sale of face masks, sanitiser, and the new dual rapid antigen test kit which tests for Covid-19 and the influenza A and B strains.
“This year’s flu is highly contagious, so it’s great to see the lessons we’ve learnt over the past couple of years have galvanised people to do what they can to stay safe and healthy,” says Seldon.