Fears we’ll forget flu vaccine this season
As people roll up sleeves for the COVID-19 jab, they have been warned not to forget the flu vaccine.
In an exclusive advertiser.com.au chat on Friday, SA's chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier said a high influenza vaccine uptake was "extremely important".
After a record low rate of flu patients last year at the height of the pandemic, she is worried about a spike in cases this winter and warned of a lack of a "natural booster" in the community.
"It is extremely important you get your flu jab," said Professor Spurrier, who was speaking alongside chief medical officer Dr Mike Cusack.
"The reason is that, first up, the COVID vaccine does not cover you for flu because each vaccine is very specific for the virus or the bacteria that it was designed for.
"When you look at our flu surveillance, it's completely flat. There was virtually nothing here in SA last year.
"There's a whole lot of reasons for that - our increased hygiene, but also with the international borders closed we didn't have anyone coming from the northern hemisphere bringing the flu.
"But that's meant that our whole population is not very immune to the flu because we haven't had our little natural booster by having it come through, even though we've been vaccinated.
"So, there is some concern that we might see - that is, when we have international borders open - that we might see a flu uptick."
Latest SA Health figures show just five flu cases have been reported this year, compared with 826 at the same time in 2020 and 971 in 2019.
Last year, there were 1583 flu patients, compared to 27,096 cases in 2019.
Prof Spurrier, who was the second person in the state to get the Pfizer vaccine after Premier Steven Marshall, said the virus jab was safe and could help restrictions being eased sooner.
She dismissed concerns of a slow uptake compared to other states.
SA Health has this week vaccinated 1053 "high-risk" frontline COVID workers in the medi-hotels and healthcare staff.
Commonwealth officials have also protected more aged-care staff and residents.
"I think that we will be right … we haven't had any hiccups at all. It's all going to plan," Prof Spurrier said.
The pair also said:
BEING vaccinated was the best and most basic way of protecting the community;
THERE were no issues with pregnant women getting the vaccine although it was not routinely recommended;
PEOPLE should get tested after being jabbed but it didn't need to immediately after getting the vaccine if they became a little run down, and;
THE AstraZeneca vaccine, which will be used in later SA cohorts, appeared to be a "bit more protective", according to a Scottish study, giving them confidence both "really do work very well".
SA Health on Friday reported consecutive days of no new cases.
Originally published as Fears we'll forget flu vaccine this season