Flu vaccines arrive

South Australians eligible for a free influenza vaccination through the National Immunisation Program can now book in for their annual shot as the first delivery of this year’s vaccine arrives in the state.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said immunisation providers have begun to receive stock of the influenza vaccination, which will help protect the South Australian community from this deadly disease.

“The rollout of this year’s flu vaccine will be run concurrently with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. SA Health’s public health team recommends that those who are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 1a or Phase 1b, prioritise getting the COVID vaccine first, before booking in for their annual flu vaccine,” Minister Wade said.

“This is our COVID-first group.

“South Australians whose turn is in a later phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, should be looking to get your flu shot as soon as the vaccine is available at their GP or immunisation provider, and then roll up again for your COVID-19 vaccine when it’s your turn.

“This is our COVID-second group.

“Over the past 12 months, South Australians have been world-leading in their proven commitment to protect themselves and the health and wellbeing of the entire community. We cannot drop the ball now. I would encourage everyone to keep up the good work and roll up their sleeves for a flu vaccine this season too.”

The Department for Health and Wellbeing’s Communicable Disease Control Branch Director, Dr Louise Flood, said measures put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 have had a positive impact on the state’s flu numbers, which are at their lowest since the flu became a notifiable condition in 2008.

“There have been just nine cases of influenza notified in South Australia this year, compared to 1,447 at the same time last year,” Dr Flood said.

“Each year, most of our flu cases come from the northern hemisphere and these low numbers likely reflect the restrictions on travel into Australia, as well as improved hygiene in the community.

“However, the severity of a flu season is always impossible to predict, so we need to make sure we are prepared. As our borders reopen, we expect flu numbers to rise, which is why getting a flu shot every year remains the most effective way of preventing the spread.

“We encourage everyone to contact their GP or immunisation provider to arrange to get their flu shot as soon as it is available.”

Through the National Immunisation Program (NIP), free flu vaccines are available for people aged 65 years and over, pregnant women, children aged six months to less than five years of age, all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander over six months, and people with certain medical conditions that predispose them to flu-related complications.

Adults and children who are homeless are eligible to receive free flu vaccines under the Marshall Liberal Government’s new State Funded Influenza Program.

GPs and immunisation providers have begun receiving flu vaccination this week and can begin immunising as soon as their stock has arrived.

The recommended minimum interval between a dose of seasonal influenza vaccine and a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is 14 days.

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