Flu cases hit record numbers

By Ewen McRae

Melton and Moorabool experienced a record breaking flu season in 2019, according to new figures from the Department of Health.
The department’s infectious diseases report states there were 2170 instances of flu within the Melton municipality, a sharp increase from the 310 cases in 2018, and more than twice the previous record year in 2017 (860 cases).
Moorabool also experienced a record year, with 324 cases of flu for the year, up from 74 in 2018 and 237 in 2017.
Djerriwarrh Health Services chief executive Belinda Scott said while flu seasons were getting longer each year, it was pleasing to see the numbers of residents taking up vaccines also increasing each year.
“We saw some high numbers of flu, but we also had our highest numbers of immunisation as well,” Ms Scott said.
“Flu is easy to forget in the months that aren’t the winter months, but flu is just as common in summer so it is not too late to get your shot.
“Flu is seasonal, and we had a pretty bad year in 2017 as well, and so each year it is about what is around and combating that. Flu is spread by contact so it is important to practice good hygiene to help the community avoid spreading it.
“Each year the vaccine is made specifically for what they believe are the strains of flu that are going to be around that year, so it’s important to stay up-to-date with your vaccines.”
Despite the high flu numbers in 2019, Ms Scott said the health services were coping well, and had up-skilled more nurses to meet the demand for vaccines.
“We’re always making sure we have enough to keep up with demand,” she said.
“It’s about awareness with the flu. People need to not be complacent, because the flu is not a cold … there are deaths in young people from the flu, and in the elderly, so what we need to do is make sure that people understand that and are proactively getting vaccinated.”