24 May 2017

Minister for Health: Flu vaccination rates slump to an alarming low

New data from the Department of Health has shown the uptake of the flu vaccine has declined, despite the risk of influenza remaining high.

In 2016, there were 7,937 confirmed influenza cases in Western Australia, of which 20 per cent (1,580) required hospitalisation.

The 65 years and over demographic, which represents 12.3 per cent of the Western Australian population, accounted for 22.5 per cent of total flu cases (1,788). Of this cohort, 23 per cent (722) required hospitalisation for their symptoms. Yet despite these high numbers, the uptake of the flu vaccine in this demographic was 56 per cent in 2016; this is down from 64.2 per cent in 2014.

These new findings follow a study led by Princess Margaret Hospital infectious diseases specialist Christopher Blyth which found the vaccination rate for the under-five age group had fallen from about 42 per cent in 2008-09 to just seven per cent in 2010-14.

The influenza vaccine is available free through immunisation providers including GP clinics, community health clinics or Aboriginal medical services for eligible, at-risk groups including young children, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, pregnant women, people aged 65 years and above, and those with chronic medical conditions.

People not eligible for the free vaccine can get it through their GP or at a participating chemist for a small cost.

Anyone with concerns about whether they or members of their family should be vaccinated should discuss this with their GP.

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