(Australian Associated Press)
The first flu vaccine specifically aimed at people aged 65 and over will be available in Australia.
Ahead of the flu season, where it is hoped early vaccination will ease pressure on a health system already stressed by the coronavirus, older Aussies will have access to a shot meant just for them.
The vaccine named Fluad Quad is designed for older adults whose immune systems weaken with age.
The listing comes after pharmacists said they have seen a huge surge in people getting flu shots, outpacing last season’s demand.
“(Pharmacist) flu clinics, which have just started in the last couple of weeks, have been fully booked out,” Pharmaceutical Society of Australia president Chris Freeman told AAP.
“I think the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened that awareness for everybody.”
With the coronavirus proving to be fatal for the elderly, Austin Health’s Michael Woodward said this is not the year you want to get flu.
“While the flu vaccine does not protect against the COVID-19 virus, immunising against the flu … may help to reduce the risk of diagnostic uncertainty between flu and COVID-19.”
Protecting against flu, Professor Woodward said, may also help reduce pressure on the health system and intensive care units.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s Greg Turnbull said they had seen a heightened demand for flu shots as Australians started to get the message.
“”There’s already a lot of demand in the community,” he told AAP.
“If you’re going to try to resist or survive COVID-19, it’s better that you are fit and not suffering from influenza at the same time.”
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has urged Australians to get their flu shots earlier than usual, but reminded people to call their GP ahead of time.