ACT Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly. Photo: Ross Buchanan
Winter may be almost over but influenza season is only just beginning in Canberra.
ACT Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly said there had been a rise in flu cases in the past two weeks and he urged people to consider being vaccinated against the virus.
Dr Kelly said the flu season was much later in Canberra this year than in previous years, when activity typically peaked in mid-July.
There had been 144 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza this year between January1 and July26, with 30per cent of those cases occurring after July1.
“It’s a strange flu season,” he said. “It’s been very slow.
“The fact we had such a mild July was probably partly to do with it.”
Dr Kelly said a similar trend had been noted in other parts of the country, particularly in the eastern states of Victoria and NSW.
He said he hoped the ACT’s influenza vaccination program had been partly responsible for the slow start to the season.
“We have had a very good response to our vaccination program this year,” he said.
“But it still might become large numbers [of influenza cases] in the next few weeks.”
Dr Kelly said there had been only a few hospitalisations because of influenza this season and no deaths.
It was not too late to have a flu vaccination, he said.
“The vaccine is free for people at risk of developing serious illness or severe complications.
‘‘However, eligibility should be checked with your GP,’’ Dr Kelly said.
“Flu vaccination is the single most effective measure people can take to prevent the spread of influenza in the community, and immunisation is recommended for anyone wanting to avoid being sick with the flu.”
Dr Kelly said people could also reduce the spread of flu by covering their mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing, washing their hands regularly, putting used tissues in a bin and staying home from work, school or childcare when sick.