Coast doctor urges shots ahead of worldwide flu pandemic

A SUNSHINE Coast general practitioner has warned a worldwide flu pandemic is looming and is urging residents to be vaccinated.

Australian Medical Association Queensland North Coast area representative Wayne Herdy said because flu pandemics tended to occur in cycles, and a major one had not surfaced in many years, experts believed we were due.

"There is nothing we can do to stop it," Dr Herdy said.

"The only thing we can do is minimise the impact.

"Everyone should have the flu vaccine.

"The only reason not to is if you have an allergy to egg or egg products."

Dr Herdy said influenza, commonly known as the flu, was a highly contagious disease. The viruses are spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes small droplets containing the virus into the air.

"The flu can cause serious illness, particularly in people with underlying medical conditions, older adults, pregnant women and young children," he said.

"Influenza can make other conditions, including respiratory or heart problems, even worse."

Dr Herdy said if the flu pandemic did develop, it would be worse than the 2009 swine flu breakout.

"Then we had thousands of people affected. Relatively, it was a minor event," he said.

"A flu pandemic would see hundreds-of-thousands or millions of people affected."

Influenza Specialist Group chairman Alan Hampson said health authorities already had seen unusually high numbers of early cases in Queensland this summer.

Dr Herdy said the cost of the flu vaccine to most people would be under $20.

The flu vaccine is free for: pregnant women, indigenous people over 15 years, people over 65 years, and children and adults suffering underlying medical conditions, heart and kidney disease, and diabetes.


In Australia, flu causes:

1500-3500 deaths annually. That's more than the road toll, depending on the severity of the season.

18,000 extra hospitalisations.

300,000 extra GP visits.

An estimated 15% of adults and 30% (or more) of young children will be infected annually.

The peak flu season is July, August and September.

The 2013 flu vaccine has been formulated to include A(H3N2), A(H1N1) and B viruses

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