Flu fears rise after ‘dramatic reduction’ in vaccination numbers

Queensland doctors say demand for flu shots has plunged, despite authorities pleading with people to protect themselves.

Apr 28, 2020, updated Apr 28, 2020

The Australian Medical Association of Queensland says clinics have reported a “drastic reduction” in the number of flu shots compared with the same time last year.

But it doesn’t have any data on how severe the problem is, or whether people might simply be heading to pharmacies to get their shots.

It says vaccine supply issues might also be a factor in the downward trend, which was identified via feedback from doctors.

AMAQ president Dr Dilip Dhupelia says people who get the flu are at greater risk of getting COVID-19.

“We need people to get their flu shot now so we don’t come out of one crisis only to face another one,” he warned on Tuesday,

AAP has sought comment on flu shot trends from the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

In Queensland, pharmacies can administer flu vaccines to anyone except children aged under 10.

In 2014, when Queensland first trialled pharmacy flu shots, the Australian Medical Association warned it could be dangerous, and pharmacists should not pretend to be doctors.

So far this year, flu cases are down thanks in large part to people being ordered to stay home to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Only nine people were diagnosed with influenza last week, a mere fraction of the 900 cases health officials would expect each week at this time of year.

But Dhupelia has warned flu cases are likely to spike alongside the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

He said people shouldn’t be scared about going their GP for flu shots, with clinics working under strict infection control measures.


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