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Major decline in Aust flu deaths in 2018

The flu killed far fewer Australians in 2018 than it did last year, as the number of cases of the infection reported fell dramatically.

The decline between the two years is a timely reminder that vaccinations work, according to Health Minister Greg Hunt.

There were 73 deaths from influenza in the latest season, which peaked in early September.

That compared to 1137 deaths from the respiratory illness in 2017, the worst season in almost a decade.

In total, 52,000 cases of the flu were reported in 2018, compared with nearly 250,000 cases in the same period last year.

Mr Hunt said the 2017 season spurred the federal government to provide enhanced vaccines for the elderly.

More than 3.4 million extra doses were made available, allowing more than 85 per cent of people aged 65 and older to be protected.

Unprecedented demand for vaccines early in 2018 also prompted the government to secure an extra 1.3 million doses.

They were made available through the National Immunisation Program, state programs and the private market.

“The action our government took means more families have been spared the tragedy of losing someone they love because of this preventable, infectious disease,” Mr Hunt said.

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