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The 2018 Flu Season and what it means for 2019

Wednesday, 13 Mar 2019
The 2018 Flu Season and what it means for 2019

According to the Australian Department of Health’s 2018 Influenza Season summary, we saw very low levels of activity compared to previous years1. On analysis of the recent 5-year average of flu notifications, 2018 came in at under half that average. Overall, it was considered a relatively mild season compared to 2017 which proved to be the worst flu season on record with more than a quarter of a million cases reported nationwide1.In general, the clinical severity of cases during the 2018 season was considered moderate, with children under 10 years of age more prone to contract infection with the flu virus1. 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.

The Sonic HealthPlus workplace flu program was in high demand as a result of the extreme flu season of 2017. It pays to remain vigilant and not let down your guard for this coming flu season as vaccination is still the best protection against the flu - most people develop immunity within two weeks of vaccination4. Evidence suggests the effects of the vaccine may wane, with experts recommending vaccinations from mid-April/May 2019 to be protected during the peak of the flu season which usually occurs in August4.  It is never too late however to be vaccinated.

The 2019 season has started with record numbers of summer flu notifications, which could signal another severe season. A total of 14,774 laboratory-confirmed influenza case were reported Australia-wide as at the 12th of March 20192. 3.

Of the nearly 15,000 cases, over 4,300 were from Queensland5 which usually averages 534 cases for the same period (based on reports from the previous five years)3. Dr Jonathan Malo, Queensland Health’s A/Medical Director Communicable Disease Brand, advised that it was important for “people to continue practising good health hygiene like washing hands regularly, covering a cough with a tissue or arm, and staying at home if they’re ill.”

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

References
1  14 December 2018 The Department of Health “Australian Influenza Surveillance Report and Activity Updates”.  http://www.health.gov.au/flureport#current
2  12 January 2019, The Australian “Measles, flu surges alarm health chiefs” by Sean Parnell  https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/health/measles-flu-surges-alarm-health-chiefs/news-story/6c38c59468ab8ca2716a8135a52944c9
3  4th January 2019, Queensland Government, Queensland Health “Summer flu numbers rising”  https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-alerts/doh-media-releases/releases/summer-flu-numbers-rising
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
5  Immunisation Coalition Influenza Activity Surveillance 2019 https://www.immunisationcoalition.org.au/news-media/2019-influenza-statistics/

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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