For the first time in South Australia’s history, the Malinauskas Labor Government will provide free flu shots to all South Australians in a significant move to ease pressure on the state’s hospitals.
South Australia is facing the prospect of the combined spread of COVID-19 and influenza during winter for the first time and the government is taking action to ensure as many people as possible get vaccinated against both.
From now through to June 30, all South Australians will be able to access the influenza vaccine for free. The free jabs will be funded via a subsidy scheme for South Australian GPs and pharmacists.
In an additional move to encourage more children to get vaccinated, pharmacies around South Australia are also now permitted to administer flu vaccinations to children aged 5 to 9 years of age. Previously it was only children aged 10 and above.
The free flu vax program has been designed to offer an incentive for as many South Australians to get vaccinated as soon as possible so they can protect themselves when influenza is forecast to peak later in winter.
The latest stats show so far this year there have been 1,195 confirmed cases of influenza in South Australia, compared with 12 cases for the same period last year.
About 30 per cent of South Australians have received their influenza vaccination since March 1. There is an estimated 938,000 South Australians who are not already eligible for free influenza vaccination who have yet to receive the jab.
It is estimated the program will cost $4.9 million.
Experts anticipate greater spread of influenza across Australia this year due to a combination of two consecutive years of limited community spread lowering the general population’s immunity and the removal of most restrictions associated with COVID-19.
Attributable to Peter Malinauskas
At the last State Election, I said I would do everything I possibly could to ease pressure on our hospital system.
This is my government living up to that commitment.
We are not going to be a government that sits back and doesn’t act.
The dual challenge of broad community spread of COVID-19 and influenza at the same time during winter threatens to put further pressure on a hospital system already facing significant demand.
We must do everything we can to ensure as many South Australians as possible are immunised against both COVID and influenza to ease pressure on our hospitals.
My message to all South Australians is to get vaccinated against both COVID-19 and influenza to protect yourself and your family this winter.
Attributable to Stephen Mullighan
We must act fast to ensure as many people as possible are vaccinated which is why this program has been designed to be short and sharp.
Spending $4.9 million on this program will be money well spent if we can save lives and keep people out of hospital.
Attributable to Chris Picton
We’ve now had two consecutive winters effectively flu-free which means the public’s immunity is lower and we are at greater risk of an outbreak this winter.
After years of grappling with COVID-19, we mustn’t forget that influenza can also be deadly.
The best way to protect yourself from influenza is to get vaccinated.