Influenza cases in decline after horror season

The majority of confirmed cases of the flu in Bendigo this year were in people older than 85 years of age. Picture: SHUTTERSTOCK
The majority of confirmed cases of the flu in Bendigo this year were in people older than 85 years of age. Picture: SHUTTERSTOCK

Flu cases in Bendigo are on the decline, relieving pressure on the emergency department in what has become one of the worst influenza seasons in the country.

The number of reported cases of influenza in Bendigo this year has more than quadrupled compared to the same time last year.

More than 240 cases of the flu have been reported in the City of Greater Bendigo up until October 27 this year, with the majority occurring in people older than 85 years of age.

At the same time last year, just 58 cases had been reported to the Victorian health department.

Region-wide, 867 cases have been reported in the Loddon Mallee, up by more than 190 per cent; and, statewide, 26,775 notified cases, up by almost 135 per cent.

Australia’s chief medical officer has hit out at claims the horror flu season was because of a cheap vaccine.

Australia’s chief medical officer has hit out at claims the horror flu season was because of a cheap vaccine.

Bendigo Health infectious diseases physician Dr Andrew Mahony said staff at the hospital had pulled together to treat the increase in flu patients on top of everything else, but were feeling a bit of fatigue.

“It was a big year for the hospital and a big year for the region,” he said.

“Our number of cases has been in decline for the last two weeks, which means a lot less pressure on the emergency department and hospital, which is good.”

Across the country, there have been 215,280 confirmed flu cases and 504 flu-related deaths so far this year – the majority due to influenza A.

Dr Mahony said a vaccination now would do little for anyone, unless they were headed overseas to a country where the flu season was about to begin.

But there were still cases of influenza B circulating, as well as some other viruses.

Australia’s chief medical officer Professor Brendan Murphy hit out at claims on Monday the horror flu season was because of a cheap vaccine.

“I could not be clearer – I completely refute this false claim,” he said.

“The flu vaccines chosen this year were the best available in Australian market, selected by medical experts in Australia and around the world.”

Immunisation Coalition chairman Paul van Buynder told 3AW there was no doubt the vaccine didn’t work.

“We’ve had the worst flu season we’ve seen,” he said.

“The hospitals will tell you, the GPs and emergency departments will tell you – we know the vaccine didn’t work.”

LISTEN: Click PLAY below to hear the interview on 3AW 

- with 3AW