Extra Beds at Mater Springfield Opened To Public Flu Patients; Eligible Queenslanders Urged to Get Free Vaccination

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Since flu cases spike early in the year and public hospitals reach capacity, the government has been forced to pay for beds at private hospitals, such as Mater Hospital in Springfield, to accommodate public flu patients.

Queensland Health has reported that there have already been a total 7,445 influenza notifications as of 7 April 2019, up from 3,318 at about the same time last year. The year 2017 was one of the worst years for flu with 56,590 recorded notification whilst a total of 15,664 flu notifications were made in 2018.

The public is thus urged to book in for their flu shot this month, before the peak flu season sets in around August, as it generally takes 10 to 14 days to be fully effective. People are also encouraged to continue practising good health hygiene like regular hand washing, covering a cough with a tissue or arm, and staying at home when ill.

“It’s so important for Queenslanders to get vaccinated every year because it’s the best way to protect yourself from the flu,” Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles said in his announcement.

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“The government provides free vaccines for children under five, pregnant women, Queenslanders over the age of 65 and all Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people,” Mr Miles said.

“These vaccines are now on their way to providers and eligible Queenslanders should book in to get their free jab from mid to late April.”

“The latest expert advice is that while protection from vaccination is expected to last for the whole season, the best protection is provided in the three to four months following vaccination,”

“Flu season in Queensland is typically from June to September, with the peak usually in August.

“That’s why we recommend vaccinating sometime between mid-April through to the end of May, to ensure the best protection during the peak of the season,” he said.

National Immunisation Program

There are more than 6 million vaccine doses secured this year through the Government’s National Immunisation Program. This will allow Australian’s who are most at risk of getting sick due to influenza virus infection during this year’s flu season can get access to the vaccines.

Under the National Immunisation Program, those eligible for the flu shot include people 65 years and over, pregnant women, and people suffering from chronic conditions. For the first time, all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from 6 months of age are also eligible to get the flu vaccination.

“The message remains the same: get vaccinated every year because it is the best way of protecting yourself against the flu,” Mr Miles said.