07/08/2020 | Stephen Wade MLC | Better Services

South Australian families are smashing immunisation records throughout the state, with almost 45,000 flu vaccines administered to young children in the first 14 weeks of this year’s annual Influenza program.

The huge uptake in providing better protections for the state’s children validates the Marshall Liberal Government’s 2018 initiative to make flu vaccinations free for children aged between six months and five years old.

“This is an eight per cent increase from 2019 to 2020 and an incredible 188 per cent increase on the number of children who received a vaccine in 2018,” Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Stephen Wade said.

Minister Wade said this means that thousands more children, aged six months of age to less than five-years-old, are receiving the protection they need.

“South Australians have gone above and beyond in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and families are once again to be congratulated for showing their commitment to protect the health of their children and supporting the health of the entire community.

“Vaccines are our number one defence against preventable diseases and we proudly rank ourselves among the highest for flu vaccine uptake in all age cohorts across Australia.”

The strong figures come amid the roll out of the Marshall Liberal Government’s No Jab, No Play legislation which excludes children up to the age of six from early learning services who have not been fully vaccinated.

“The State Liberal Government has a strong focus on protecting children from vaccine preventable diseases and we are delivering on that goal with public health initiatives,” Minister Wade said.

“The message is crystal clear – get your kids fully immunised or they will not be admitted to early learning centres. We are not willing to put your child, other children, staff and the wider community at risk.”

The Department for Health and Wellbeing’s Director of Communicable Disease and Control Branch, Dr Louise Flood, said of the 1,556 cases of influenza reported to the branch this year, 137 have been in children under five years of age.

“Babies and children younger than five years of age are more likely to be at risk of complications or hospitalisation because of the flu,” Dr Flood said.

“This age group is also more likely to spread the virus to other vulnerable people such as their grandparents, which is why we strongly encourage uptake of this vaccine.

“In addition to getting the flu vaccine, there are a number of steps we can all take to stop the spread of the flu.

“It’s important to wash hands regularly, maintain physical distancing, wipe down any frequently used surfaces and stay home if you are sick and make sure that if you or someone in your care has any symptoms, go and get a test for COVID-19.”

As of 19 June 2020, the Department for Health and Wellbeing has distributed enough vaccine to immunise over 100 per cent of individuals eligible for a free influenza program vaccine, with vaccine still available should additional unexpected demand arise.

There have been 1,556 cases of influenza reported to the CDCB this year, compared with 21,929 cases reported for the same period last year.

*Figures below refer to the first 14 weeks of the distribution program in each of the past three years

Number of children aged six months of age to less than five years of age to receive an influenza vaccine

2020 - 44,933

2019 - 41,322

2018 - 15,607