Flu cases continue to spike

A federal recommendation states that all children over six months should have the flu shot. Picture: Edwina Pickles

A federal recommendation states that all children over six months should have the flu shot. Picture: Edwina Pickles

More than 100 people have come down with the flu in the past four weeks, almost doubling the region’s 2017 figures in one month alone.

August and September are traditionally the peak months for the flu, but the season has hit early this year, with Bendigo Health reporting a spike by early July.

Victorian health department data shows 232 cases of influenza have been reported in the Loddon Mallee region up until August 6 this year, compared to 99 cases during the same period in 2016.

In the City of Greater Bendigo, 74 cases had been reported up until August 6, with more than half of those in the past four weeks.​

The Royal Children's Hospital reported on Tuesday an almost 50 per cent increase in flu cases this year, with Dr Margie Danchin saying poor information about vaccination for children had contributed to the more severe season.

"One of the biggest feedback we get from parents is 'My GP told me not to get the flu vaccine for my child'," she said.

"The strong message that we get is that GPs tell them not to get the flu vaccine if their children are under five, when in fact the [correct] message is the complete opposite."

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Statewide, children under five account for the second highest age bracket with reported cases of the flu this year, behind those 85 and older.

Dr Danchin said children aged from six months to five years were in a high-risk group and a federal recommendation states that all children over six months should have the flu shot.

In greater Bendigo, only two cases of the flu have been reported so far in children, with both aged below five.

The age group with the most reported cases is 85 and older, with 18 so far this year; followed by 13 cases in the 80-84 age bracket.

The Shire of Campase on the other hand, has seen seven cases in those aged below 19 years old, and five of those in the 5 to 9-year-old bracket.

Further south, the Macedon Ranges has reported 14 cases of the flu in those less than 19 years of age.

- with Chloe Booker, The Age

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