10 May 2023

Widespread flu a bigger problem than COVID-19

| Matt Nicholls
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Weipa Town Authority superintendent Judey Haeusler received her flu jab from local pharmacist Sam Harbison last week.

CAPE York has a virus problem and it’s not just COVID-19.

The flu has been giving health workers grief across the region as hospitals and health clinics struggle to contain a highly contagious strain of Influenza A which is wreaking havoc on schools and workplaces.

At Weipa, school attendance has been decimated, while the hospital had to close its aged care facility to the public to protect the residents.

The state government responded last week by announcing that flu shots would be free for all Queenslanders until the end of June.

“We have seen how difficult it has been to fight COVID-19,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

“To fight COVID-19 and the flu is doubly hard.

“That’s why we are making these flu shots free for everyone.”

Confirmed flu cases are now far outpacing active COVID–19 cases in the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service.

As of Thursday, there were 51 active COVID cases within the region, but 272 confirmed cases of the flu.

Cape York residents wanting to get their flu vaccination should speak to their GP, pharmacist or health clinic.

Sam Harbison, the owner of Live Life Pharmacy in Weipa, said he was well stocked with the flu vaccine but urged locals and tourists to book ahead.

“Come in and see us and we can get you an appointment,” he said.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the free vaccines would be available for all Queenslanders aged six months and older.

“Flu vaccines are generally not free except for the most vulnerable,” she said.

“The fact that more than 4000 cases have already been detected when flu seasons don’t usually begin until late July is very concerning.

“Our best defence is to get as many people vaccinated as possible.”

She also thanked the professional pharmacy and medical bodies for backing the initiative.

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