Australia experiences dreaded flu season after COVID-19 outbreak, 3 young people die after virus diagnosis

Experts warn Australia’s indifference to the flu is leading to a surge in cases and deaths.

From January 1 to June 25 this year, there were 116,473 flu notifications, 107 flu-related deaths and 1,236 hospitalizations reported to the National Notified Disease Surveillance System.

The death of three young people from the disease in Australia in recent months has shocked the nation, even though many associate flu deaths with the elderly.

This week alone, an 11-year-old girl in Queensland and a teenage boy on the Central Coast of New South Wales died from the flu, raising concerns about the effects of the flu.

camera iconEmma Schwab, an 11-year-old girl from Noosa, has died after contracting influenza B. Photo: GoFundMe credit: News Corp Australia

With below-average vaccination coverage, these statistics come as no surprise to health professionals.

This complacency stems from a misunderstanding of the seriousness of the disease, said Paul Griffin, Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases at Marter Health.

“During COVID-19, the number of flu cases was unprecedentedly low. I think it was less than 1,000 in a year, which is unprecedented, and the number of people who have been infected recently has decreased. It means,” he said.

“But the main reason is that people are losing sight of the importance of influenza, which is leading to lower vaccination coverage.”

Australians aged 5 to 15 years are least likely to be vaccinated at 13.7%, followed by 15 to 50 years old at 20.5%.

Prime Minister Anastasia Parashchuk
camera iconBy 9 July, about 8.5 million Australians had received the flu vaccine, down nearly 2 million from the previous year. Dan Peredo/NCA NewsWire credit: News Corp Australia
camera iconProfessor Robert Booey said low vaccination coverage among young people was a major factor in the number of cases of severe influenza. credit: Supplied

According to pediatrician and infectious disease expert Professor Robert Booey, only 23.6% of children under the age of 5 have been vaccinated against the flu, which represents complacency and vaccination “a little too much.” “It’s a worrying statistic that people are to blame.”

“[The vaccine uptake] It’s incredibly inadequate to provide protection, and given the many years of free flu vaccinations for children under the age of five, we should have done better by now.” said.

As a result, young people were much more likely to catch the flu, with 57 percent of those infected in New South Wales under the age of 20 and 36 percent under the age of 10.

Children under the age of five are particularly at risk of severe illness, and in June a previously healthy 3-year-old Perth boy died suddenly from the flu.

Muhammad Saadiq Segaf contracted influenza A and then rapidly deteriorated into cardiac arrest. Doctors tried to save him with open-heart surgery, but they were unable to revive him.

camera iconThree-year-old Muhammad Sadiq Segaf died of influenza in May. credit: channel 7
camera iconBesides good hygiene, the flu vaccine is the best protection against contracting the disease. NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty credit: News Corp Australia

Professor Griffin argued that attitudes towards children and COVID-19 are causing a spike in flu cases among young people.

“We have reassured people that children are at low risk of COVID-19, but with the flu it is very different. I think a lot of people are missing that. We can actually get the flu and they can spread the flu and get infected,” he said.

“Traditionally, and as we see it today, the highest rates of notifications and hospitalizations actually occur in children.”

Influenza A led the epidemic at the beginning of the flu season, but now influenza B has taken over as the dominant strain.

Both are “nasty” and can cause serious illness, although the A strain is considered more severe.

camera iconAssociate Professor Paul Griffin has urged all Australians to get a flu shot, even those who are already infected. credit: Supplied
camera iconHe and Professor Bowie say it’s never too late to get flu protection. NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw credit: News Corp Australia

“Influenza B is usually thought of as less severe, doesn’t cause pandemics, and hasn’t changed much, but what we’re seeing now is that it tends to cause more severe illness in children. That’s it,” said Professor Griffin.

“That’s why our vaccine actually contains two influenza A strains and two influenza B strains, and can protect people from both.”

Professor Booey says it’s never too late to vaccinate yourself and your children against the disease, even if you’ve already had it this year.

Only 5 to 10 percent of children with the flu need to be taken to the hospital, Griffin said, but provided some tips for parents concerned about sick children.

“If you’re wondering if your child needs to be tested, it’s wise to be cautious,” he says.

“Our main concern is respiratory infections, so if your child is having trouble breathing or is wheezing badly, we recommend getting tested.

“Severe infections can cause problems in the central nervous system and can make children irritable or sleepy. You may see changes in your skin. If you see patches or pale skin, Be sure to get tested.” Australia experiences dreaded flu season after COVID-19 outbreak, 3 young people die after virus diagnosis

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