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Warning of ‘flu epidemic’ as cases triple in NSW ahead of winter

Cases of the flu in NSW have more than tripled in the last month, as the fears within the medical community appear to be coming true.

NSW has recorded 1237 flu cases up to April 25, compared to the 341 cases identified in March.

Whether it be vaccination fatigue or a lack of knowledge about the service, flu vaccine uptake is down on the previous two years.

Experts including the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia have been warning that this flu season could turn into an epidemic.

After border closures and the Covid-19 pandemic minimised the illness’ prevalence in the last two years, there is less community immunity to the flu.

Children in particular are seeing the highest rates of flu infection, as 17 per cent of cases in March were in children under the age of five. In 2019, this number was down at just 10 per cent.

Almost 1.5 million got vaccinated against the flu in 2020, down to around 850,000 in 2021 and now in 2022 just 600,000 NSW residents have received their annual flu shot.

The strain, influenza A is the major cause of the state’s rising cases, accounting for 1235 of the cases identified. Just two of the cases in NSW have been attributed to the B strain of the virus.

Flu shot story
Camera IconJust 600,000 NSW residents have received their annual flu shot this year. Mark Wilson Credit: News Corp Australia

There were no flu deaths reported in NSW last year but there were more than 800 deaths reported in 2019- the last year before coronavirus overwhelmed viral infections.

The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia are warning that at the current rate of infection, the peak of this year’s flu season may come earlier than July this year.

The flu vaccine is free for children aged six months to five years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, other adults aged 65 and over, pregnant women and people with a number of health conditions.

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