Thursday, May 30, 2024

Free flu shots program extended

The Queensland Government has today announced an extension of its free flu vaccination program for 2024, as part of a $40 million commitment to ease pressure on hospital emergency departments this flu season.

All Queensland residents over the age of 6 months are eligible to receive the free vaccine from vaccination providers, including GPs and pharmacies, with bookings now open for the free flu shots.

“Many people have vaccine fatigue after the pandemic, which means we are recording significant drops in vaccinations against things like the flu,” said Premier, Steven Miles.

“While it might seem like the common cold, influenza can be deadly which is why it’s so important to get a flu shot every single year.

“Our free flu vaccination program is an easy way to get yourself covered ahead of winter without the barrier of cost, and has helped almost one million people get protected so far.

“It’s our hope that all eligible Queenslanders, especially the vulnerable, roll up their sleeve and get vaccinated. It’s the best way to protect yourself and those around you this flu season.”

The peak season for influenza varies from year to year, but typically starts in May and lasts until around October, with most cases typically recorded in August.

This program is an extension of those that ran during the 2022 and 2023 seasons and saw 912,000 Queenslanders take up the offer.

Influenza vaccine uptake dropped significantly in 2023 compared to the year prior, with just a third of Queenslanders being vaccinated against the flu. Flu vaccination uptake was particularly low last year among children aged five years and under.

The 2024 Free Flu Vaccination Program, concluding on 30 September 2024, aims to encourage more Queenslanders to get vaccinated, while putting money back into the pockets of families who do not qualify for a free vaccination under the Commonwealth’s National Immunisation Program (NIP).

“Every year, we see hundreds of hospitalisations due to influenza,” said Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Services, Shannon Fentiman.

“Already this year, more than 700 people have been hospitalised due to serious illness from influenza and as of 25 March 2024, 83 Queenslanders are currently in hospital due to influenza.

“In 2023, Queensland recorded more than 74,000 flu cases, and sadly, 144 deaths were reported. Since the start of this year, 7,000 flu cases have been reported, as well as 11 deaths due to influenza.

“Getting vaccinated every year is the best way for people to protect themselves and their loved ones against the flu.

The influenza vaccine can be co-administered with a COVID-19 booster dose.

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