State Government offering free influenza vaccines as WA prepares for ‘triple virus threat’
Free flu jabs will be available next month to everyone in WA as the State braces for a “triple virus threat” this winter.
The State Government will offer free jabs at pharmacies throughout May for influenza, which hospitalises about 1500 Australian children each year.
The offer comes as health experts warn of the threat of rising COVID cases and lingering respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), combined with the peak flu season between June and September.
Last month, WA recorded 694 flu cases — the highest number ever reported for the month of March.
Only babies under six months cannot have the jab, but research has found infants are less likely to be hospitalised with the flu if their mother has received a flu vaccine during pregnancy.
TerryWhite Chemmart Doubleview pharmacist Chad Arnold said the northern hemisphere winter indicated the triple threat was a serious risk for Australia.
“RSV is a little bit of a tough one because there is no vaccination. But for COVID and the flu, we can be getting ourselves vaccinated and giving us the best protection possible for two out of three,” Mr Arnold said.
“It is going to be a particularly bad season and are potentially very early in the season for influenza cases.”
Mr Arnold said if more people were jabbed, there would be better protection across the community for those most at risk.
He said past offers of free jabs had encouraged the public to get their jab as soon as possible.
Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson warned the public not to underestimate the seriousness of the flu.
“It is especially important that young children, older adults, and people with chronic medical conditions protect themselves by getting vaccinated,” Ms Sanderson said.
“Now is also the time to make sure your COVID-19 vaccinations are up to date, influenza and COVID-19 vaccines can be given on the same day.”
Pregnant women, those aged 65 and over, children between six months and 12 years old, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and those who are immunocompromised are able to get the jab for free year-round via the National Immunisation Program.
Some experts have warned that the peak season could hit early, with Professor Yuben Moodley telling The West last week “It would be reasonable to suggest the peak will be late May, early June”.
For details, visit healthywa.wa.gov.au