Australia unprepared for next flu outbreak

A record-breaking 105,000 flu cases have been confirmed nationally.

Australia not ready for flu outbreak

Flu season may be almost behind us, but a record-breaking 105,000 flu cases have been confirmed nationally, leading to several deaths in Victoria and Tasmania.

With vaccination rates static, and in some states falling, Australian Medical Association (AMA) President Michael Gannon has expressed frustration that rates remain stubbornly low and warns that it could all end in disaster in future flu seasons.

"Australia is woefully unprepared for the next pandemic flu," Mr Gannon told Fairfax Media.

"You never know when it's going to come – whether it's five years away, 10 years away, 15 years away – but people are lazy and they just don't take it seriously enough. Hopefully, the headlines we've seen this week will serve as a reminder to the population we need to do better next year."

The latest outbreak at St John’s Retirement Village in Wangaratta, Victoria, killed seven people, while an outbreak in Tasmania in August at the Uniting Agewell Strathdevon aged care facility killed six people

The Federal Government has just announced plans to introduce compulsory flu vaccinations for all aged-care workers.

"I will work with the medical authorities, health-care workers and the aged-care providers on how we can make it compulsory for those working in aged-care facilities," said Health Minister Greg Hunt.

"We cannot continue to have a situation where people, whose immunity is already low, are at risk from others who may be infected."

Australians aged 65 or older are entitled to a flu vaccination for free along with aged-care workers and residents of all-ages.

Professor Allen Cheng at Monash University and Director of Infection Prevention at The Alfred Hospital believes that a better vaccine is needed to combat the latest fast mutating and highly diverse strain of the flu.

Did you get a flu shot this season? Did you contract the flu this season? Should more be done to promote the free nature of such injections?

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    COMMENTS

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    Hasbeen
    5th Sep 2017
    10:44am
    My wife & I both had our shots. We both still got the flu, & for me it lasted longer than any previous dose of flu.

    I won't say the shots don't help, but if they do, they didn't do much this year.
    mike
    5th Sep 2017
    11:02am
    I am 70 and have never had the flu shot. I know of several people who have had the shot and STILL got the flu, so I believe you are more likely to get the flu after the shot
    Rob
    5th Sep 2017
    11:03am
    I have had the worst influenza in decades even though I had Fluvax vaccination in April. Nothing is guaranteed Rob
    Tib
    5th Sep 2017
    12:07pm
    I'm told that when you get the flu shot you can get flu like symptoms but not the flu. So flu like I seem to get sick as a dog every time I get it. Perhaps they stop the flu from killing me , but only just.
    KSS
    5th Sep 2017
    12:31pm
    You simply cannot get the flu from the flu shot because it does not contain live virus. The shot may cause an immune response in some people as the body learns to recognise and fight the 'invasion'. For the vast majority this is very mild and mostly goes unnoticed.

    People who do get sick are likely to have been infected before getting the flu shot and be in the 'window period' where the viral load is too low to show symptoms. As the vial load increases so the symptoms begin to show up.

    The main point for getting the flu vaccination is that whilst it may not be 100% foolproof it does reduce the severity and duration of the flu if you do become infected.

    I work with people with severely compromised immune systems and am provided with the vaccination every year. I take it not just to protect myself, but also to protect others.
    Tib
    5th Sep 2017
    12:42pm
    KSS I understand and acknowledge the process. But it doesn't stop me getting as sick as a dog. While I agree with its use in sensitive areas like aged care anyone who enters a shopping centre is exposed to the flu every year.
    While my reaction to the flu shot is unpleasant as it is I am taking my chance with the flu. For those that want to avoid the flu without the shot stay out of any public place don't expect me to have the shot to protect you.
    Ted Wards
    5th Sep 2017
    2:20pm
    Why is it a coincidence then that the two times I have had the flu shot I got very ill. The other 28 years Ive not had flu shots Ive not gotten the flu.
    Rosret
    5th Sep 2017
    12:34pm
    Every year they say its the worst year ever.
    However, if it actually is the worst year have they linked the stats of not prescribing antibiotics to the increased absentee and mortality rate.
    I have been crook for weeks. I know my sinuses are infected and I am at a general low ebb. Several of my friends have been the same. After 6 weeks a friend found a doctor who would prescribe antibiotics and she was better in 6 hours! Infected sinuses gone.
    Have the medical profession swung the pendulum too far in the opposite direction?
    How many patients are getting pneumonia when they shouldn't have?
    Rosret
    5th Sep 2017
    12:40pm
    PS I have always had my thoughts on the last pandemic immediately after WWI where 21 million people died.
    It was a time when the scientists were experimenting with biological warfare and I do wonder......
    Tib
    5th Sep 2017
    12:50pm
    Rosret you are talking about Spanish flu. I don't think science was advanced enough to be responsible for that. I believe it's a form of H1N1 and if we got another servere form of that we can expect more mass graves and the flu shot wouldn't be in time to fix it.
    I hope that makes you feel better ;)
    Rosret
    5th Sep 2017
    1:04pm
    Yes you are probably right. I want to believe that.
    Re H1N1 - it could have been a pandemic but it wasn't. I think the world is much better informed and outbreaks can be quarantined.
    Influenza is not necessarily the ogre in the room. It culls the sick and aged. So much better than dying of dementia or cancer.
    Tib
    5th Sep 2017
    6:45pm
    Spanish flu killed the young and healthy , look it up. It's one of the reasons it was such a worry. If the H1N1 strain had been bad it wouldn't have been contained and bodies would have been everywhere. That's why the authorities were so worried. We may not be lucky next time.
    Rosret
    5th Sep 2017
    8:54pm
    The Spanish flu was like no other. Their blood turned to syrup. Most viruses don't intend to kill the host as it also wants to survive. That's why I have long wondered about it origin.
    ROB
    5th Sep 2017
    1:52pm
    My partner and I regularly travel about the world; planes, trains and ships. We have been doing this for years and in all this time have never suffered with the flu and avoid the flu vaccinations like the plague. In our travels we meet hundreds of others that also avoid the flu shots and also have no issues with flu. As we are in our 70s we have a huge range of people, all ages, as friends and family. With all the hundreds of people we connect with the only ones that regularly suffer with the flu are the ones having the flu Vaccinations and they appear to suffer very badly. Maybe a co-incidence perhaps but seems near 100% receiving the vaccinations then too often suffer flu and ill health and near 100% without the vaccinations have far better health overall and no flu? That of course is just our experience.
    voodooguru
    5th Sep 2017
    2:09pm
    The flu vaccine is simply a big pharma scam supported enthusiastically by the medical mafia and promoted unashamedly by the sycophantic mainstream media. Having survived the vaccinations of their youth, the elderly do not need any further assaults on their weakening immune systems. The same is true of Tetanus, Pertussis, Diphtheria, Shingles etc. vaccinations that are also being pushed. Let's do our own research and find out what's really going on. There are still alternative sources of information on the Internet even though they are being continually demoted by the search engines on the pretext of fake news. The real fake news is right under our noses and is being peddled by the purveyors that we might hope have our best interests at heart: the pharmaceutical industry, the medical "profession" and mainstream media. They don't.
    voodooguru
    5th Sep 2017
    2:09pm
    The flu vaccine is simply a big pharma scam supported enthusiastically by the medical mafia and promoted unashamedly by the sycophantic mainstream media. Having survived the vaccinations of their youth, the elderly do not need any further assaults on their weakening immune systems. The same is true of Tetanus, Pertussis, Diphtheria, Shingles etc. vaccinations that are also being pushed. Let's do our own research and find out what's really going on. There are still alternative sources of information on the Internet even though they are being continually demoted by the search engines on the pretext of fake news. The real fake news is right under our noses and is being peddled by the purveyors that we might hope have our best interests at heart: the pharmaceutical industry, the medical "profession" and mainstream media. They don't.
    Ted Wards
    5th Sep 2017
    2:18pm
    No the only time I have had flu shots I have gotten the flu. Ive been an aged care worker for over 30 years and had the flu shot twice. People's hygiene habits also need to be examined. All workers can take every precaution but if one visitor comes in infected, then what do you do?
    Ella
    5th Sep 2017
    2:34pm
    Have to say that in my workplace i noticed over the years that the same staff were sick each year despite their flu vaccinations . I've never had one and never get the flu . My brother who's 5 years older than me was talked into his first flu shot and was sick enough to get pneumonia for the first time in his life. I think it goes back to the state of your health generally and immune system. I never take antibiotics either and am rarely sick.
    As for the elderly dying from flu , I've worked in aged care facilities on and off since 1981 and every winter a number of old people died . This is not a new occurrence. Part of the aging process is a deterioration in health status and becoming gradually immobile doesn't help.
    Rosret
    5th Sep 2017
    9:04pm
    Yes, unfortunately some people are less immune to viruses than others. That's why I for one would cringe when the "healthy" would continue to come to work sick and spread it around the office with great gusto.
    People I rarely spoke to would come up and breathe and cough all over me when they got sick as some subconscious cruel plan to "share".
    There was a place of work I got so sick that I would wash my hands every evening before travelling home, wipe down the keyboards before using them and opened the windows where ever possible.
    I also had a pneumonia vaccine - and it is well worth having.
    Old Geezer
    5th Sep 2017
    3:38pm
    The only people I know of who have got the flu have all had flu shots. I don't know of anyone who got the flu and didn't have a flu shot.

    Just wait until we get lots of age care workers with the flu even though they have all had the flu shot.

    Since age care is God's waiting room then people don't get taken out alive. It's flu season so why not just blame the flu for their death as it's a good cause of death whereas old age is not.
    Triss
    5th Sep 2017
    5:10pm
    You're right, OG, and I'm appalled that the government is thinking of forcibly vaccinating all residents in care homes.

    5th Sep 2017
    3:47pm
    We are volunteers and the place where we volunteer our time requires an annual 'flu vaccination. Neither of us had had the 'flu since we have started our vaccinations and we have been advised that the vaccination doesn't stop one getting the 'flu but lessens the effect dramatically. I'm not a subscriber to conspiracy theories and I trust our health care professional who also get a 'flu vaccination each year.
    Old Geezer
    5th Sep 2017
    4:40pm
    If I volunteered somewhere and they put that sort of condition on me I would tell them that I was no longer available to help them. My health is more important than any charity.
    Miranda
    5th Sep 2017
    4:03pm
    I think it's just a case of everyone being different. When I moved to Australia over 30 years ago I came down with the flu for the first time in my life. Three months later it came back worse than ever. Ever since then I have had a flu vaccination every year and fortunately have never had flu again.
    margeh
    5th Sep 2017
    5:04pm
    I have the flu shot every year, but still get head colds: runny nose and bad coughs. A head cold is not the flu, although many of my friends call their cold symptoms the "flu"- different virus entirely.
    Old Geezer
    5th Sep 2017
    5:33pm
    I can't remember the last time I even had a cold myself as I haven't had one for many years now.
    KSS
    6th Sep 2017
    7:03am
    You are quite right margeh and that is part of the problem. The over dramatising of simple colds and other sniffles as 'flu'.

    And as for you Old Geezer, I DO have the flu vax every year provided by my employer because we work with people who have seriously compromised immune systems. We also have a policy that says if you are sick, DON'T come in - and everyone abides by that. I never have sick days, I have never had flu. Also I also never get simple colds and sniffles either but that has nothing to do with the flu vax.

    7th Sep 2017
    9:42am
    Always have the flu shots and touch wood have not been sick. Previously I used to get the flu. Have had a cold but nothing like getting a good dose of the flu...I hate it.

    Seniors are very susceptible and I personally don't think it is worth taking the risk of not getting the vaccination.
    Jannie
    9th Sep 2017
    10:33am
    What are the health authorities doing to advise us of what we can do other than having the flu injection? I had the flu injection and I still came down with a nasty strain of the flu. The health authorities need to come up with something eg a mask that can protect us from all the bugs in the air.


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