Top doctor says new health crisis looming

QUEENSLANDERS are at risk of coming out of one deadly health crisis and going into another, the state's top doctor has warned, as the uptake in flu vaccinations has reduced by up to 30 per cent.

As COVID-19 restrictions start to ease, the Australian Medical Association Queensland chief has warned there has been a drop in people getting the flu shot and this could spark a potentially deadly influenza season.

Alarmingly, the risks of getting the coronavirus is higher if a person has the flu.

Some GPs in southeast Queensland are reporting a reduction in flu vaccinations of up to 30 per cent on the same time last year.

The death toll of the flu in the state in 2019 was a total of 264.

"People have been adhering to COVID-19 restrictions and staying at home, but these measures are set to start easing this week," AMAQ president Dilip Dhupelia said yesterday.

"As more people start resuming normal activities, we are likely to see a rise of influenza.

"If you get the flu, you are at greater risk of getting COVID-19 which would be a double whammy.

"Having both would make you extremely ill.

"We need people to get their flu shot now so we don't come out of one crisis only to face another one."



Dr Dhupelia said it was understandable for people to be concerned about COVID-19 infection risks, but GP clinics had strict infection control measures in place and were safe for patients to visit to have their flu shot.

"From now until mid-May is the best time to have your flu shot, and I'm urging Queenslanders to make an appointment today to see their GP for a vaccination," he said.

Over the last five years the average number of flu cases in Queensland at this stage of the year is 4127.

A spokesman for Queensland Health told The Courier-Mail the flu vaccination was a must to prevent hospital admission in these COVID-19 times.

By this time last year there were already dozens of flu patients in ICU beds.

"Although the flu vaccine does not protect against COVID-19, it can reduce the severity and spread of influenza, which may make a person more susceptible to other respiratory illnesses like COVID-19," the spokesman said.







Originally published as Top doctor says new health crisis looming