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The Palaszczuk Government announced free vaccinations will be available starting from this weekend to help lower influenza cases.

QLD aged care staff and residents urged to get flu jab

Free vaccinations will roll out for Queenslanders amid a spike in cases across the state, with calls for aged care staff, residents, and visitors to get vaccinated.

Starting this weekend, Queenslanders will be eligible for free influenza vaccination at GPs and pharmacies.

Influenza is associated with higher hospitalisations and deaths among people aged 65 and over, especially those in aged care.

As of June, 7,755,068 Australians have received an influenza vaccine, of which 40 per cent are 65 and over.

In March, Professor Paul van Buyunder, an infectious diseases expert at Griffith University, warned older people and aged care providers of the dangers of influenza and urged them to implement more robust protective measures.

“If we combine COVID with this year’s flu variant, we’re going to see a dramatic mark on all Australians, particularly older people,” Professor van Buyunder said.

“Aged care should ensure that their residents have had a pneumonia vaccine as well as the flu vaccine.”

"We need rules to ensure that people working in aged care facilities all have their influenza and their covid boosters, so they're not bringing it to the facility to make things worse."

Queensland reported 3071 cases of influenza, of which 9 per cent were hospitalised. 

So far, the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care data showed 1.61 million Queenslanders who have received the flu vaccine. The figure has dropped, however, around 19 per cent compared to last year, where the total number was close to two million.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the vaccination rates were low and wanted to eliminate any barriers to getting the vaccination.

“Health experts have told us that this strain is particularly severe and that vaccination rates are low,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“We know the cost of living is a real concern right now, and this will fill the gap for people who don’t qualify for a free vaccination.”

Queensland University of Technology’s Professor Gerry Fitzgerald said it was particularly important for aged care staff to seize the free vaccination. 

“Influenza is a serious illness and can make an older person more prone to other infections, such as pneumonia, which can be fatal,”  Professor Fitzgerald said.

“It is very important for the aged care sector staff to get vaccinated so that they are less likely to transmit influenza to the patients.”

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