Twice as many sick from flu this year

FLU WARNING: Ms Mullen said the number of lab-confirmed influenza cases was more than triple the five-year average for the same period. Photo: Supplied
FLU WARNING: Ms Mullen said the number of lab-confirmed influenza cases was more than triple the five-year average for the same period. Photo: Supplied

TWICE as many people have fallen sick with the flu in the Metro South health district compared to the same time last year.

Data from Queensland Health shows that 1859 lab-confirmed cases of influenza have already been reported across the Metro South health district so far this year.

Almost 850 people have been hospitalised with the flu across Queensland out of the 10,409 who have already fallen sick.

Jordan MP Charis Mullen has since urged residents to get vaccinated if they have not already done so.

She said the number of lab-confirmed influenza cases so far this year was more than triple the five-year average for the same period.

About 80 people have been put into intensive care because of influenza this year.

"It's been a horrid year for flu and peak season is still a few months away," she said.

"The flu shot is by far the best way of ensuring you don't get sick and end up in hospital, as many Queenslanders already have unfortunately."

More people have fallen ill with Influenza A, with 9685 cases split between types H1N1 and H3N2 already clocked up this year.

Four strains of influenza, that include type A's Michigan (H1N1) and Switzerland (H3N2) and type B's Phuket and Colorado, are included in this year's quadrivalent vaccines.

The available trivalent vaccines have the Michigan, Switzerland and Phuket strains.

Free higher immunogenicity trivalent vaccines are available for those older than 65.

The age group is at greater risk of serious complications from influenza infection and have the highest influenza-related number of deaths each year.

The enhanced vaccine for seniors does not provide protection against the Colorado B strain but is considered as able to provide better and broader protection against Michigan, Switzerland and Phuket.

Ms Mullen said the flu could be deadly. She encouraged people to practise good hygiene like frequent hand washing and making sure sneezes and coughs were covered.

"For some people in high-risk categories, influenza can be deadly so it's crucial we all play our part to help stop it spreading and reduce its effects on the community," she said.

"Now is the time to get your vaccination and protect yourself against infection, keeping in mind it takes between 10 and 14 days to take full effect."

Flu season in Queensland generally peaks during August.

Those eligible for free flu shots

- all children aged from six months to under five years.

- pregnant women

- people 65 years of age or older

- Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people

- people with certain medical conditions which increase the risk of influenza disease complications

All other Queenslanders can buy the flu vaccine from their doctor or immunisation provider.