Swine flu vaccine encouraged
GYMPIE residents opting to get a jab against H1N1 influenza or Human Swine Flu, are not only protecting themselves but are also helping to protect their families and their communities, say health authorities.
That’s why Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young is urging people to roll up their sleeve to be vaccinated before the second wave of the swine flu pandemic hits the state, possibly in February or March next year.
Health Minister Nicola Roxon announced this month that the vaccine had been approved for use in children aged less than 10 years and said she hoped families would go together to get the injections.
Young children will require two doses, with the first providing some immediate protection.
The Commonwealth’s chief medical officer Jim Bishop said swine flu had proven particularly dangerous for young people.
According to the most recent figures, 178 Australians died after contracting swine flu this winter and there have been some 36,500 cases reported.
While the chronically ill, pregnant women, the obese and indigenous people are considered most at risk, Dr Young said at a medical conference last week, that extensive modelling had indicated that if 40 per cent of the population is immunised, then that will significantly reduce the likely impact.
She said that while the new vaccine offered safe, effective protection, only 10 per cent of Queenslanders had been immunised so far.
Without a higher percentage of people getting vaccinated, Dr Young said that next year would be a “very similar flu season to what we saw last year with about the same morbidity, the same mortality and the same admissions to hospitals and ICE”. Infection control experts say washing your hands frequently is an effective preventive measure for swine flu.