Nightmare flu season prompts more Australians to think about vaccination

Stock image.
Stock image.

AUSTRALIA’s nightmare 2017 flu season has encouraged more parents to get their children vaccinated, a national poll shows.

Twice as many parents of children under five years intend to vaccinate their child for the 2018 flu season compared with 12 months ago, according to the Royal Children’s Hospital poll, released on Wednesday in Melbourne.

Parents are also more aware of the severity of the virus, with eight in 10 now recognising the flu as a serious disease, compared with 32 per cent last year.

The 2017 flu season was one of the worst on record, with more than 3000 children admitted to hospital across the nation. At least five children died.

“Last year, nearly 400 children were admitted to (the Royal Children’s Hospital) with the flu, and already this year, before winter has even begun, we’ve had to admit nearly 40 children with the flu,” director of the poll, paediatrician Anthea Rhodes said.

Despite the increase in parents vaccinating their children, Dr Rhodes said a third of parents surveyed are still undecided.

“There has been an extraordinary leap in parents’ knowledge about the flu and the vaccine in just one year, which is terrific, but we need to see more parents making that appointment to get their child’s free flu vaccine,” she said.

The flu vaccine is free for children aged six months to five-years-old in Victoria, Queensland, NSW, WA, SA and the ACT.

– AAP