Why flu jabs for indigenous Australians are so important
AS THE monster flu season rages on, health professionals are urging indigenous Australians to get vaccinated.
Galangoor Duwalami Primary Health Care Service health services manager Ann Woolcock said indigenous Australians were heavily over-represented in the hospital system.
"About 10 per cent of those with a chest infection are hospitalised and, keeping in mind Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people only make up 2-3 per cent of the population, of those 10 per cent hospitalised, nearly eight per cent are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders people," Ms Woolcock said.
She said taking advantage of a freely-available flu vaccination could help bring this "insanely high" number down.
"That number is very high, it's actually insanely high, which is why the government subsidises vaccinations," Ms Woolcock said.
"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also over-represented when it comes to pneumonias, especially with hospital admissions, which is really alarming for us.
"Getting a flu vaccine really could save a life."
Ms Woolcock said since April this year, 615 indigenous people had been vaccinated at Galangoor's Hervey Bay and Maryborough clinics.
She said the number was "a bit higher" than previous years.
"Normally for us we see a peak for the flu season around September, however this year we did notice we started to see an increase of flu cases a bit earlier and impacting on that was the affect of the flu across the nation," Ms Woolcock said.
She said the flu vaccine was free for any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person over the age of six months and was available from any general practitioner.
"We always align our flu injections with other things like the Pnuemovax, which is for people over 50 years of age," Ms Woolcock said.
"They can get two doses five years apart for life to help the elderly in the community with pneumonia.
"This year we have given out about 27 across the Fraser Coast.
"We encourage people to also get pertussis, the whooping cough vaccine, if they can afford it as well as it is not subsidised.
"It costs up to $40 per injection and although children get it covered under the immunisation scheme they could live with grandparents and be at risk.
"The funding was pulled about four years ago and it's an issue within our community because a lot of people go 'I can't afford that'."
- Jessica Lamb