The Wide Bay Public Health Unit is urging locals to protect themselves and their loved ones by accessing free influenza vaccination.
The vaccinations are available to all Queenslanders at general practitioners and pharmacies until 31 August thanks to a state government initiative.
This is in addition to vulnerable groups remaining eligible for free vaccination under the National Immunisation program.
Acting Wide Bay PHU Director Dr Margaret Young said influenza remained a constant presence in the region with 1991 lab-confirmed cases between January 1 and July 16 this year.
“There has been a significant presence of influenza in the Wide Bay community since early April and each week the lab is confirming about 120 more positive cases,” Dr Young said.
“Considering these numbers are only the lab-confirmed cases, there’s clearly ongoing high transmission rates in the Wide Bay area and it’s important that we all take steps such as vaccination to limit the spread of infection.”
Dr Young said that low vaccination rates left influenza circulating in the Wide Bay region and put vulnerable community members at risk.
“We’re particularly concerned that only about one third of Wide Bay residents have been vaccinated against influenza,” she said.
“That leaves the vast majority of the community unvaccinated and potentially passing the disease to vulnerable groups.
“While our seniors have fairly good vaccination rates of above 70%, other vulnerable groups including children and First Nations people have particularly low coverage.
“We urge people in these groups to be vaccinated.
“This is particularly important as we see high hospitalisation rates among children across Queensland this year.
“It’s time that we all step up and be vaccinated to protect not only ourselves, but also our loved ones and vulnerable members of our community.
“Vaccination is a well-proven safe and effective way to protect against influenza and its complications.”