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2018 Influenza Season Report

Wednesday, 13 Mar 2019
2018 Influenza Season Report

With the Sonic HealthPlus Workplace Flu Program in high demand throughout 2018 we were successful in helping many businesses keep their workforce healthy during the flu season.  Luckily it was a mild season in comparison to previous years, with a gradual start to the season and a short delayed peak in mid-August1.

There were a total of 58,570 laboratory-confirmed notifications of influenza countrywide for the 2018 calendar year2 which was almost one-quarter fewer than during the 2017 flu season2. The clinical severity of infections experienced last year was rated as moderate with children less than 10 years of age the most commonly infected1. In terms of the vaccine’s effectiveness, vaccinated individuals were 68% less likely to present with symptoms to a GP and 58% less likely to be hospitalised due to influenza when compared to unvaccinated individuals1. This year has started from a high base of summer flu notifications which could signal another severe season – nearly 15,000 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases were reported by March 12th, 20192. 3.

Most people develop immunity within two weeks of receiving the flu vaccination. There has been recent evidence suggesting the duration of protection offered by the vaccination can wane, reducing protection through the year and making the vaccination timing very important. With peak flu season usually occurring in August, the recommended time to vaccinate is from mid-April/May 2019 to ensure you are covered4.  Important to note however: it is never too late to vaccinate and we encourage getting the vaccine at the most appropriate or convenient time during the influenza season2.

The Influenza virus strains included in the 2019 seasonal influenza vaccines are:

  • A (H1N1): an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09 like virus
  • A (H3N2): an A/Switzerland/8060/2017 (H3N2) like virus
  • B: a B/Colorado/06/2017 like virus (not included in the trivalent vaccine) 
  • B: a B/Phuket/3073/2013 like virus4

To continue building your barrier to flu, it’s also important to wash your hands regularly, cough into the crook of your elbow rather than your hand and throw away tissues after use.

To find out more about Workplace Flu Vaccinations or to obtain a quote, click here.

References
  1. 16th November 2018, Australian Government, Department of Health “2018 Influenza Season in Australia” http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-surveil-ozflu-flucurr.htm
  2. Immunisation Coalition - Influenza surveillance https://www.immunisationcoalition.org.au/news-media/historic-influenza-statistics/
  3. Flu fears - Winter warning after record-breaking summer cases https://www.2gb.com/flu-fears-winter-warning-after-record-breaking-summer-cases/
  4. 6th March 2019, Australian Government, Department of Health “2019 Influenza Vaccines” https://beta.health.gov.au/news-and-events/media-releases/2019-influenza-vaccines

Tonia Buzzolini

Tonia has an extensive knowledge in travel medicine; she has been working at Travelvax Australia for over 18 years, most recently as the National Operations Manager.

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