Experts are warning that another wave of the H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic is set to hit Australia in May and are urging people to get immunized now.
A free vaccine to protect all Australians from pandemic H1N1 influenza virus has been available for some time, but the take up rate has only been modest. The vaccine is approved for use in young children (from six months of age) as well as adults. The H1N1 swine flu vaccine is available free of charge at some GP offices, vaccination clinics, hospitals and health centres. If you own a business, urge your staff to take up the free vaccine even if they need to do it during work hours as the potential for lost time due to illness is still significant.
Many people however are opting to pay the $20 required to obtain the seasonal vaccine which protects from the three most likely influenza strains this flu season, including the H1N1 variant. This has lead to speculation that significant numbers of the 21 million doses of the free H1N1 vaccine will go to waste.
The ABC reports that in Queensland more than 55,000 people have been vaccinated against H1N1 at weekend health clinics held in high schools around the state, with Queensland Health to continue to run the clinics until the end of the school term.
Queensland Health chief health officer Jeannette Young is pleased with the take-up.
“Anyone who goes along who is part of the child’s family can certainly be vaccinated and anyone from the general community who wants to can certainly go along to one of the clinics,” she said.
In accordance with the federal vaccine roll out, “The children have to be over the age of six months,” She said.