Queensland parents urged to vaccinate children for the flu
8 May 2019
With flu season ramping up, Children’s Health Queensland is urging parents to have their children vaccinated now to ensure they are protected in time.
In 2018, Queensland recorded 4,235 flu cases in children under 18, with 5-9 age bracket taking the hardest hit.
Influenza is an acute viral illness that is easily spread, mainly through particle droplets produced by coughing and sneezing. The virus remains a common cause of hospitalisation and death in Australia and the percentage of people in the general community affected by influenza is typically higher for children than adults.
Vaccination is recommended for all people aged six months and over and offered free of charge to all Aboriginal and/Torres Strait Islander people over six months, children aged six months to less than five years, and those with specific medical conditions, as well as pregnant women. All other Queenslanders can purchase the vaccine from their doctor or immunisation provider.
“Vaccination is the most effective way of reducing the impact of flu in the community. Every year the influenza vaccine changes to match the influenza virus that is most likely to circulate during the flu season. Getting vaccinated every year is the best way to protect yourself against influenza and its complications,” Children’s Health Queensland’s Immunisations Senior Medical Officer, Dr Sophie Wen said.
Dr Wen said this is particularly important for immunocompromised children who are at higher risk of complications from influenza infection.
Dr Wen said the timing of flu vaccination was important to ensure effective protection from the flu.
“While it’s never too late to vaccinate against flu, the best protection is provided in the three to four months following vaccination,” Dr Wen said.
Important points to remember:
- The flu season in Queensland typically runs from June to September, with the peak usually in August. Therefore, vaccinations are recommended from mid-April through to the end of May, to ensure the best protection.
- The vaccine isn’t immediately effective – it generally takes 10 to 14 days to be fully protected after vaccination
Dr Wen said there were other simple steps families could take to help prevent spreading the flu virus.
“Practising good cough etiquette such as covering the nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and always washing hands afterwards as well as before eating can help reduce the likelihood of transmitting and contracting the virus,” she said.
For more information, visit the Queensland Health website.
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