Department of Health

Influenza vaccine stocks replenished for Victorians

02/08/18
Published by Department of Health & Human Services

More Victorians now have greater access to influenza vaccines as additional supplies are available, the Chief Health Officer, Professor Charles Guest said today.

"As a result of an additional vaccine production run organised by the Commonwealth government there are around 120,000 doses of vaccine being distributed which can be used in all adults 18 years and above," Prof Guest said.

"And there are more than 70,000 doses of vaccine for younger age groups eligible under the Victorian funded program for children six months to under five years now available to GPs and immunisation providers.

"Children under 9 years of age who have never before received a flu vaccine need two doses given one month apart to be fully protected.

"Any at risk groups in the community who are eligible for free vaccine under the National Immunisation Program or the Victorian under five program who have not had their shot so far this year can now obtain it from their GP or vaccination provider.

Vaccination is still highly recommended for all Victorians, especially those in the 'at risk' groups, as the vaccine offers protection for the rest of the winter.

"Flu vaccinations save lives. We know influenza is a highly contagious viral infection, spread by contact with fluids from coughs and sneezes, that's why we've obtained more vaccine to protect more Victorians.

"It's never too late to get a flu shot, and with influenza activity just now on the rise, getting a shot now will provide full season protection right through winter and beyond the expected peak in late September.

"When more people are vaccinated, fewer people become ill or suffer life-threatening complications from influenza. That's why it's vital to get your flu shot," Prof Guest said.

The 'at risk' groups who should consider immunisation, if they have not already done so, include children aged six months to five years, and people in 'at risk' groups under the National Immunisation Program.

The National Immunisation Program risk groups include pregnant women, people aged 65 years and over, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over, and people with medical conditions predisposing them to severe influenza.

In total, Victoria has distributed 1,731,184 influenza vaccines. This is 448,000 more doses than 2017, when 1,283,580 vaccines were distributed.

"As we are still in the depths of winter it is important to remember most people can infect others up to seven days after becoming sick, so the best way to avoid spreading the flu is to stay at home while you are unwell," Prof Guest said.

"In particular, avoid going to work or school or visiting busy public places. Avoid sharing linens, eating utensils and dishes. Observe good cough etiquette at all times. This includes coughing into a tissue and disposing of it immediately, or coughing into your sleeve.

"Good hand hygiene is also important. Wash your hands regularly using soap and water, particularly if you cough into your hands," Prof Guest said.

Reviewed 02 August 2018

Health.vic

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