Expert warns the flu is about to rip through the country and Aussies are LESS immune to the virus – but there’s one thing you can do to protect yourself
- Influenza at ‘historically low levels’ over last two years due to pandemic
- Experts warning upcoming season could be severe with no immunity
- Australians are being encouraged to seek the flu shot to avoid severe cases
Australians must urgently get a flu jab because Covid vaccines do little to stop the virus, a top doctor has warned.
Influenza has become a relative afterthought over the past two years as Covid dominates, with flu infections at ‘historically low levels’.
In 2019, the year before the pandemic, Australia’s National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System reported 313,033 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza.
That figure fell to a staggeringly low 598 cases in 2021 due to lockdowns, social distancing and people generally avoiding public places.
A leading virologist said Covid vaccines and immunity will do little to safeguard against getting the flu – with a experts calling on Australians to get the shot ahead of winter
The lack of exposure to the flu during lockdowns could see it rip through the community in the upcoming winter months, with experts calling for people to seek the influenza shot to prevent severe illness.
‘Because we haven’t had it floating around the community in the last two years we haven’t had the same exposure,’ Professor Catherine Bennett told Daily Mail Australia.
‘We’ve got a gap now, if we haven’t seen it for two years variants could be quite different now.’
Professor Bennett, who is the inaugural chair in Epidemiology at Deakin University, said Covid immunity will do little to stop flu infection.
‘They’re different. The body is primed to recognise Covid now and the other things we do to look after our immune system are strong for everything,’ she said.
‘Covid protection will boost the immune system, but they’re completely different.’
Flu infections in Australia fell from 313,033 in 2019 to just 598 in 2021 – with new variants of the virus set to cause havoc
She hopes Australia will see record numbers of flu shots as the country approaches a tricky period dealing with outbreaks in the colder seasons.
‘It’d be good if people who didn’t think about getting the flu shot before do now,’ Professor Bennett said.
‘Younger people can get a terrible virus and think it is the flu, but you realise it’s very different. It’s important people restart. It’s a good, safe vaccine.’
The Deakin University chair said while the shot ‘isn’t perfect’, it will help Australians deal with the upcoming season.
Professor Bennett said people will have different responses as a result of the strength of their immune system, which can be as simple as different genetics
‘It’s important people restart. It’s a good safe vaccine and might take the edge of an infection,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
Professor Bennett also said the Covid safe practices the world have been executing, including distancing and mask use, should see the Aussies well equipped to handle the flu season.
‘Mask-wearing, keeping people at a distance, it’ll all help. We’re more savvy protecting ourselves from exposure now,’ she said.
‘Get the flu shot. It’s not perfect but it’ll help.’