Early flu season calls for people to prepare

With the flu season starting early this year, the Pharmacy Guild has urged people to get vaccinated. Picture: ON FILE.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia is urging all eligible Australians to get their flu shot following an alarming number of flu cases across the country.

In the first quarter of 2024 there were 26,836 influenza cases reported by the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS).

By February, case numbers were already double the number than what was reported the same time last year.

Pharmacy Guild National President Professor Trent Twomey says Australians should get ahead of the flu season and get their vaccination now.

“The flu season typically runs from May to October,” Professor Twomey said.

“However, flu vaccines for the 2024 season are available now in community pharmacies across Australia.”

Queensland and Western Australia are leading the vaccine rollout, offering free flu vaccinations for all residents aged over six months. This will be available until 30 September in Queensland and throughout May and June in Western Australia.

Professor Twomey said that getting vaccinated ahead of the flu season is important for protecting yourself and your loved ones from the flu and its complications.

“Although the vaccine will last throughout the year, it is most effective in the first three to four months following its administration.”

According to the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), people who received an influenza vaccine in late 2023 are still recommended to get the flu vaccine in 2024.

ATAGI also advises that flu vaccines can be given on the same day as other vaccines, such as Covid.

The Australian Government funds influenza vaccines for eligible patients under the National Immunisation Program (NIP).

Further information will be available from the Department of Health and Aged Care when NIP-funded influenza vaccines become available.

Ask your community pharmacist about your flu vaccine or visit www.findapharmacy.com.au to book an appointment.