Mackay Discount Drug Store owner David Aprile says demand for flu shots has increased this year.
Mackay Discount Drug Store owner David Aprile says demand for flu shots has increased this year.

COVID-19 impacts positively on flu numbers

COVID-19 has significantly reduced the lower number of influenza cases reported this year compared to last year’s high figures.

A total of 173 cases of influenza were reported to the third week of May this year compared to a total of 522 cases for the year 2019 and 199 cases for 2018.

Explaining the difference, Mackay Hospital and Health Service chief executive Jo Whitehead said measures to reduce the impact of COVID-19, including social distancing and good hand hygiene, had assisted in the prevention of more influenza cases.

“While flu season in Queensland is typically from June to September, in the tropical areas the pattern can be more variable and may include clusters outside this period,” Ms Whitehead said.

Other stories:

Mackay feeling the pain of national specialist shortage

Staggering crisis at Mackay Hospital revealed

‘Take the health crisis in the bush seriously’

‘It’s gone on long enough’: Health crisis hits home

“In 2019 there was a wider distribution of influenza onset in Queensland between March and October with the peak occurring in August.”

Despite the drop in figures, Ms Whitehead strongly encouraged people to get their flu vaccines as it could be a serious illness, particularly for young children, the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.

Sydney Street Medical Centre practice manager Emma Pullen said her medical centre had recorded a sharp increase in the number of people seeking flu vaccinations at the beginning of the pandemic.

“COVID-19 definitely affected the number of people coming through our doors for flu shots,” Mrs Pullen said.

“However, these figures have now dropped off, which could be risky, especially for the elderly.

“It’s important that people continue to get their shots, especially the vulnerable,” Mrs Pullen said.

Mackay Discount Drug Store pharmacist David Aprile said fewer people had presented with cold and flu symptoms this year compared to last year.

“Numbers are significantly down and that is definitely due to coronavirus,” Mr Aprile said.

“However, there has been an increase in people wanting flu shots this year and the demand continues but we are struggling to get sufficient flu vaccinations to administer,” he said.

Subscriber benefits:

How to make the most of your digital subscription

Daily puzzles and Sudoku another reason to stay subscribed