The Royal College Of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA) said a low uptake of influenza vaccinations in 2021 and a low global circulation of the influenza virus in the past two years has left Australians more vulnerable to the flu.
The RCPA said that while we may be feeling vaccination fatigue, the influenza jab should be taken to prevent widespread illness and even deaths.
RCPA Fellow Dr Jenny Robson, Pathologist-in-Charge of the Department of Microbiology Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology, said the influenza virus is hard to predict this year, and Australians should protect themselves with the vaccination.
“With the relatively recent opening of international borders, it is highly likely that we will see more influenza cases in Australia in 2022,” Dr Robson said.
“Therefore, the current recommendation is that all people aged six months and older should be vaccinated against influenza as soon as possible.
Dr Robson said the vaccine is particularly important for children aged six months to five years, adults over 65 years, individuals with other illnesses that can make them more susceptible to severe illness, First Nations people and pregnant women.
“It’s a good idea to remember that if anyone still needs to get the booster for COVID-19 then both vaccines can be given at the same time. In fact, over 65s should also consider Pneumovax, if it is due, which helps to protect against pneumococcal disease. All of these vaccines can be administered safely at the same time,” said Dr Robson.
The peak season of influenza in Australia usually occurs between July and September, but as Influenza A has already appeared in Australia, this year’s peak could be sooner.
“However, we now have lower levels of protection in the community, meaning the virus can spread more quickly,” Dr Robson said.
“This is due to less overall uptake of the influenza vaccine last year and reduced recent exposure to the virus. We, therefore, need to increase vaccine coverage in the community, not only to protect ourselves but to protect our vulnerable, just like we have with COVID-19.”