Flurona threat: Parents urges to vaccinate children

Home Health Flurona threat: Parents urges to vaccinate children
Flurona threat: Parents urges to vaccinate children

Rising flu cases have become a serious issue for Aussie kids, with health professionals pleading with parents to take urgent action.

There are growing concerns among health professionals over the impact rising flu cases are having on Australian kids.

The nation is going through a “flurona” after Covid measures and border closures virtually stopped influenza from spreading over the last two years.

It has led to renewed calls for parents to book their kids, especially those five years or younger, in for a flu jab, with vaccination numbers down on previous years.

The Royal Children’s Hospital lab in Melbourne has revealed a 400 to 500 per cent increase in flu cases over the last two weeks alone.

The hospital’s medicine chief Tom Connell said on Thursday that several children had been hospitalised after contracting the virus.

“I’m concerned because as a paediatrician I think the surge increase is going to continue,” Mr Connell said.

“In the vast majority of flu cases it will be a relatively mild illness, but there’s still about 1 to 2 per cent of children who require medical care in hospital.

“Some of those children will become particularly unwell due to complications of influenza, the most significant of which will be on the heart and the brain.”

The hospital also urged parents to get their kids vaccinated as influenza was its main cause of admissions for children under five before Covid.

But the flu is not just solely affecting children’s health, with schools across the state reverting to remote learning due to staff being taken out by either influenza or Covid.

The state’s Education Minister James Merlino confirmed on Thursday that a private school in Shepparton had made the move to online learning.

“There is one year level at one school where the students are learning from home for a short period of time as that school deals with some staffing pressures,” he said.

St Francis Xavier College’s campus in Berwick also started remote learning on Friday until at least Tuesday because of Covid and “seasonal staff illness”.

There is also a huge surge of flu cases in NSW, with the state recording 6820 cases so far this month.

But concerningly more than a quarter of those are children aged nine years or younger.

It follows a push from the state’s chief health officer Kerry Chant earlier this month for parents to book their kids in for a flu shot.

“Influenza can be a very severe illness in children,” she said.

”They present with fever, cough, respiratory distress and it can obviously make underlying asthma and other conditions worse.”

A similar message is being sent in Queensland, where flu cases have increased by more than 130 per cent in the last week alone.

Queensland Children’s Hospital infectious disease physician Angela Berkhout is worried about children catching the virus, especially kids two years or younger who have low levels of immunity due to Covid restrictions.

“It is really important that this year … children are having their influenza vaccine,” she told the ABC.

“People think, ‘I‘ve got a well child, they’ve got no underlying medical problems so my child will be fine’. Unfortunately, it’s unpredictable.

“We know that there are children who’ve been previously fit and healthy who unfortunately catch influenza and have severe disease and complications related to influenza.”

The state’s Health Minister Yvette D’Ath has previously said she will ask the federal government for free or subsidised flu shots for more people.

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