Flu season is coming.
Flu season is coming. Allan Reinikka ROK030516apharmac

The one thing you can do to avoid the flu

PEOPLE are urged "not to rush" to get the flu vaccination in order to prevent a repeat of last year's influenza epidemic.

Director of Sunshine Coast Public Health Unit, Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, Dr Roscoe Taylor said the vaccine was being delivered to GPs within the coming weeks.

He said towards the end of the month would be a good time to consider getting the jab.

"Last year when people received vaccines as early as March it didn't really help them in July and August when flu season really hit," Dr Taylor said.

"The message this year is not to rush into it but start at the end of April and into May so that everyone is protected from June right through to December."

This year the Sunshine Coast has reported 323 confirmed cases of influenza, which is already up from last year's 244 confirmed cases.

"There has been an above average amount of cases reported here but it's not a big uptake," Dr Taylor said.

"It may be a case of people who are coming back from overseas are being diagnosed as it (flu) has been going around in the northern hemisphere where they are experiencing their winter."

Dr Taylor said this year's flu vaccine program differed to other years in recognition of the major flu season experienced last year.

"There have been strategies put in place to fund different vaccines for different age groups, particularly older people," he said.

Queensland Health has funded a free vaccine for children aged six months to five years old. Dr Taylor said vaccinating this age group was particularly important due to the numbers diagnosed last year.

"There were 1700 kids who ended up in hospital last year with the flu," Dr Taylor said.

"If we can reach this group the vaccine not only provides benefits for them but because they are spreaders it can help protect the broader community as well."

Dr Taylor said there were two different flu vaccines this year - one for children and adults up to the age of 64 and one for those older than 65.

For more information visit www.health.qld.gov.au.

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