Australia is experiencing its worst ever flu season, with the total number of cases so far exceeding 70000.
Experts are calling on everyone who hasn’t already had a flu shot to get it done to help prevent further cases.
‘‘It looks like we will again get the greatest number of notified cases in Australia we’ve ever seen,’’ Paul Van Buynder from Gold Coast Health and the Immunisation Coalition said.
‘‘I’m confident that this is not just the biggest recorded year in our data but it’s also the largest flu outbreak that we’ve seen for quite some time,’’ Professor Van Buynder said.
Figures revealed last Tuesday showed in the previous week there were more than 4000 notifications of influenza just in Queensland.
Already there have been 19216 notifications across the sunshine state. The most notifications Queensland has ever had in one season is about 22000.
NSW is also experiencing one of its worst flu seasons on record with 21412 confirmed cases — more than double the same period last year.
The high rates of flu among children has been blamed for the record-breaking figures.
‘‘These are the super-spreaders in the schools, to their grandparents and to others ... and they’re keeping the flu spreading within the community itself,’’ Prof Van Buynder said.
NSW Health Pathology senior medical virologist Bill Rawlinson said it was not too late to get vaccinated.
He also stressed the importance of hand-washing to prevent the spread.
‘‘A lot of the transmission of influenza comes from touching services where the viruses have settled after someone’s coughed or sneezed,’’ Professor Rawlinson said.
There is also a renewed push for the flu vaccine to be added to the national immunisation program for children.
It’s estimated that fewer than 10 per cent of children are vaccinated and Prof Van Buynder said that meant nine-out-of-10 children were vulnerable to a very serious illness.
‘‘These children clearly not just spread the virus within the community but they do suffer significant consequences themselves, particularly under the age of five,’’ he said.
‘‘I am disappointed that an argument that it would be difficult to deliver the program is preventing us from protecting children.
‘‘Parents believe that it’s not important because it’s not funded, but this is very important and it should be funded.’’