Doctor warns don’t forget to get the flu jab

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Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
Pioneer Health practice nurse Megan Downes.
Camera IconPioneer Health practice nurse Megan Downes. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson

After a record low flu season last year, Pioneer Health’s Dr James Turner expects case numbers to rise this year.

While the focus for many is on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, he has urged people not to forget about their annual flu shot.

The Government flu vaccination program is under way in WA, with stock for over 65s available, and the under 65s and children’s vaccination expected in coming weeks.

Dr Turner said it was understandable that COVID-19 had taken centre stage, but the flu was still a serious virus.

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“It is pretty dangerous, for elderly people and vulnerable people in particular and there is a risk of death. COVID-19 is potentially a more severe illness with a higher rate of death, but it doesn’t mean influenza has gone away,” he said.

Last year’s record low flu season followed a terrible 2019 season.

Dr Turner said there were no concrete reasons for that change, but he identified some factors that could have contributed to it.

“People were taking up the influenza vaccine more than usual, and people were much more cautious about social distancing and not going to work or school with flu-like symptoms,” he said.

With people relaxed about COVID-19 in WA compared to this time last year, he predicted there would be a resurgence of the flu.

“I imagine the vaccination program won’t be as successful in terms of numbers,” he said.

He said there was a recommended two-week waiting time between the COVID-19 and flu vaccines.

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