Australians are being urged to get vaccinated against influenza sooner rather than later as an early flu season is looming.
Data from the Health and Aged Care Department indicate that Australia had 100 times more flu cases in January and February than in the first two months of last year.
However, as the Doherty Institute notes, infections in the early part of 2022 were artificially low due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Ms Tate explained that existing case numbers indicate that the peak is expected to occur earlier this year than usual. She recommends getting vaccinated as soon as possible since it can take up to four weeks to build immunity and that waiting until the middle of the flu season to receive the vaccine could lead to reduced protection.
Tate notes that the side effects of the flu vaccine are “fairly minimal” and that that severe side effects are rare.
The influenza vaccine is available through General Practitioners (GPs) or local pharmacies and chemists.
It is free under the National Immunisation Program for people aged 65 or over, and those with certain medical conditions. Otherwise, the vaccine can cost between $20 and $30 at a pharmacy.
Infection disease expert, Robert Booy, said that people should consult with a healthcare professional to determine which vaccine is best for them.
Only those aged 65 and above can receive certain shots, such as “adjuvanted” vaccines, which activate a stronger immune response.