Vaccination push as WA flu deaths surge

Stock image.
Stock image.

A SPIKE in influenza-related deaths in Western Australia has prompted the state government to step up vaccination programs.

The measures include allowing pharmacists to administer it to children as young as 10.

Deaths soar in WA’s worst ever flu season

Previously, they could only administer flu vaccinations to people aged 18 and over.

Health Minister Roger Cook told reporters on Wednesday a vaccination program would be rolled out to frontline healthcare workers.

The chief medical officer has also been instructed to get extra doses for the public.

Health Department figures released on Tuesday showed flu fatalities for this year almost doubled in just one week to 29, compared to four for the same period last year.

There have been 5777 laboratory-confirmed infections so far this year, a big leap from 1399 at this time last year.

The department says last year’s flu season was particularly mild but this year’s started two months earlier than usual and is the worst since records began some 20 years ago.

Premier Mark McGowan implored flu sufferers to keep away from school and work.

“I just urge every West Australian not to panic but to understand this is a serious situation,” he said.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s WA branch welcomed the move.

“We congratulate the Health Minister and the government for taking the lead and moving quickly and decisively to improve the health of the WA community through this commonsense measure,” branch president Andrew Ngeow said.

“We know hospital admissions due to influenza are up, and there have been tragic outcomes this flu season.

“It is impossible to ignore the evidence.

“This action being taken is very appropriate and effective immediately.”