Australia’s Flu Season Starts Off Deadly For Children

Southern Hemisphere influenza vaccines exchanged the H3N2 component in egg-based vaccines for 2019

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Australian doctors are urging everyone to get their flu vaccine, fearing the ‘worst influenza season’ may be arriving. 

This fear is related to the number of pediatric-related influenza deaths already reported in 2019, and a very strong anti-vaxx opinion. 

According to The Guardian on May 21, 2019, 3 children in Queensland, Australia, have already died this flu season.

This is ominous considering the southern hemisphere flu season has not officially begun. 

This unfortunate news compares with the current flu season in the USA, which reported 109 pediatric-related deaths on May 17, 2019.

Separately, a national survey reported in April 2019 that only 10 percent of Australians believe children should be immunized against the seasonal flu. 

In reaction to this anti-vaxx opinion, experts at the Immunisation Coalition are calling for more Australian children to get a flu shot in 2019. 

Robert Booy, MD, Chairman of the Immunisation Coalition explained in a press release, “We know that children less than 15 years of age accounted for 27% of all influenza notifications and 32% of all hospitalizations were children less than 2 years old in 2017.” 

“Many parents underestimate the risk of severe complications and even death when kids contract an influenza virus.” 

“And, there is another side to the story.” 

“Kids are ‘super-spreaders’, which means they readily spread the influenza virus in the community. Not only to other kids but also to grandparents and other vulnerable people.” 

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“Influenza vaccines not only protect this vulnerable group, but it also helps to stop the spread in the community, said Dr. Booy.

Additionally, Dr. Booy points out, “Flu vaccines are safe and free for anyone aged 65 or over, children under five, pregnant women and for the first time all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people under the national immunization program.” 

During 2019, there are 4 quadrivalent influenza vaccines available for people aged under 65 years in Australia. For those aged 65 years and over, an enhanced trivalent vaccine will be available. 

On September 29, 2018, the World Health Organization vaccine advisors recommended changes to the Southern Hemisphere's 2019 vaccine. They recommended swapping out the H3N2 component in egg-based vaccines. 

This new information is important for Americans planning to travel to Australia or New Zealand in 2019. 

For Americans planning to visit Australia, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its vaccine suggestions on March 29, 2019.   

The CDC suggests visitors to Australia consider in addition to a Southern Hemisphere flu shot, these Routine Vaccines, and the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine. 

In the USA, most pharmacies offer antiviral flu medicines and various influenza vaccines.

To help those without access to insurance programs, financial assistance programs can be found at Vaccine Discounts.