Record numbers of Australians have been diagnosed with flu after a federal government delay to the start of the vaccination program.
Figures released by the Health Department on Wednesday show the number of flu cases this year has increased dramatically, with 14,124 cases compared with 9,258 at the same time last year. Plus, nearly 2,000 new cases were diagnosed in the past week.
Health Minister Sussan Ley is advising Australians to get themselves vaccinated against the flu, especially since it usually takes up to three weeks to develop immunity after the flu shot has been administered. The country’s vaccination program was delayed by a month because manufacturers had problems making enough of the vaccine, which might mean some people have missed out on their vaccine.
According to a recent survey, although many older people had been vaccinated this year, only up to 45 per cent of younger Australians at risk from the flu had been vaccinated. Professor Chris Baggoley, Australia’s Chief medical officer said people at risk such as pregnant women, indigenous Australians and all those with a chronic condition should accept the free vaccine. Due to a rare double strain change in the vaccine, all those who had the flu vaccine last year need to have it in 2015.