South Australians are being reminded they have until Thursday to receive a free flu shot as part of the free flu vaccination program that ends on 30 June. South Aussies can get their free shot at GPs and pharmacies across the state.
Around 200,000 South Australians have already taken advantage of the free shot, with a big boost in the number of people aged 65 years and older now protected—more than 37,000 doses have been recorded since the campaign was launched, with a total of 79% in this age group vaccinated. Premier Peter Malinauskas said, “This is the first time the State Government has ever provided the flu jab for free to all South Australians.
“We want to do everything we can to tackle the challenge of wider community spread of COVID-19 and influenza during the colder months, which threatens to put further pressure on a hospital system already facing increasing demand.”
The Government’s free program—rolled out for the first time ever—has formed a key part of this year’s vaccination figures. Between 1 March and 24 June, approximately 774,382 South Australians had received their flu vaccination.
The push to boost rates coincides with the resumption of international travel and lifting of COVID-19 public health measures, which has seen a significant spike in flu numbers this year compared to the previous two years.
The latest figures show there have been 6,242 cases of influenza notified year to date, compared to 16 cases at the same time in 2021.
There has been an increase of 1,359 cases of influenza notified to SA Health’s Communicable Disease Control Branch in the past week, with 605 people with flu reported to have required hospital admission already this year.
The number of co-infections is also being monitored; as of 25 June 2022, 101 people have had co-infections of influenza and COVID within a seven-day period.
Other strategies to help deal with increasing demand include opening 80 more hospital beds for flu patients as well as 28 extra private beds coming online this week to provide more capacity for public hospitals. That’s in addition to 180 more beds that have already been opened for COVID patients, and a new Acute Assessment Centre opening at the RAH last week to divert non-urgent patients away from busy EDs.
For more information visit the SA Health website.