Potential for big influenza season

Australian Medical Association

One of the few upsides to the COVID pandemic was the lowest flu season on record last year, but we need to remain vigilant.

Flu season is likely to hit Australia later than usual this year, and it could make a big comeback, following a record-high number in 2019.

The global circulation of the flu is well down for 2021 so far, but there have been outbreaks in East Timor, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Laos, India and Vietnam.

Dr Moy said high immunisation rates, as well as mask-wearing and physical distancing due to COVID-19, helped stop the spread of flu last year.

“The same things that reduce COVID reduce the flu as well,” he told AAP.

It’s estimated these measures prevented about 2800 influenza deaths.

But Dr Moy said a year with very little flu can often mean a reduced immunity in the population, resulting in a big flu season the following year.

Doctors are “scrambling” to administer regular flu shots at around the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, he said.

The two vaccines should be administered 14 days apart, so that any adverse reactions can be attributed to the correct medication and treated accordingly.

There are two types of flu shots available this season, the standard shot and a high dose for people over 65, available only through GP clinics.

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