Australians are warned that they could catch a brutal strain of the flu as cases of the disease reach 100 times higher than they were last year.
There have already been over 40,000 cases of laboratory-proven influenza so far in 2023, with more than 8173 cases diagnosed in the first half of May alone, according to the Australian Government’s National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System.
Aussie Pharma Direct managing director Daniel Seldon said that nearly everyone will be impacted by the illness this winter if people don’t get vaccinated.
Mr Seldon has urged Australians to get their flu vaccination amid surging cases of a nasty strain.Flu vaccines are readily available at pharmacies and doctors offices, and are free in many cases Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling
“There’s a very high chance that you will get it, I got it,” he said.
“For me it was a week flat on my back and about three weeks recovering from the symptoms.
More than three quarters (77 per cent) were influenza A, which has been termed the “kindy flu”, not because of its effects but because the disease has swept thorough early childhood centres and preschools.
The highest rate of infection in people is those aged five to nine, followed by those aged under four and those aged 10-14 years.
Despite the high number of children contracting the flu, they are among the least vaccinated with less than six per cent of those under five having received a flu vaccination, something Mr Seldon described as a “problem”.
To try and prevent children bringing home unwanted germs, Mr Seldon advises parents make sure that they are sanitising their hands as the “first thing” after school.
It appears that parents are already taking charge, with Aussie Pharma Direct noting a 200 per cent increase over the past two weeks in the sale of face masks, sanitiser, and the new dual rapid antigen test kit which tests for Covid-19 and the influenza A and B strains.
Experts have plead with Australians to start wearing masks again with cases of the flu and Covid continuing to rise ahead of winter. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty
The most common place for people to contract an illness is while on public transport, with Mr Seldon urging people to keep away from people who are coughing and sniffling and to consider popping on a mask while on the train.
Mr Seldon himself came down with influenza A, shortly after receiving his vaccination but before his body received the full benefits of the shot, and he describes the symptoms as “way worse” than when he had Covid-19.
“I’m still suffering, it really sat in my chest,” he said.
“I was sort of laid up in bed for about a week and then just couldn‘t get rid of this cough, it’s still here and it really sort of sits in your lungs.”
He says that now is not the time to forget the hygiene lessons learnt during the pandemic, as they may save Australians from a bad case of the flu.