The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unexpected impact on influenza rates in Australia.
The implementation of infection control standards during the pandemic has been seen as a causal link between improved hygiene practices, social distancing and a noticeable reduction in flu cases. According to statistics, there have only been 598 reported influenza cases in Australia between January to November in 2021, and 64 cases in the first two months of 2022. For context, that is just 3% of the numbers recorded in 2020 which saw numbers rise beyond 21,000 cases.
Despite pleasing figures, health professionals are urging people not to get complacent with basic public health measures. This includes handwashing, covering noses and mouths when coughing or sneezing, and keeping vaccinations up to date. As life slowly returns back to normal, it is crucial that individuals stay vigilant in order to keep flu numbers at bay, whilst adjusting to life with COVID. Here are some tips to help.
Get vaccinated if possible
COVID-19 has posed substantial challenges to preventative interventions. This means that due to lockdowns, social distancing, and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine, reports have highlighted a drop in flu vaccinations compared to previous years. This in turn has had an impact on herd immunity levels, meaning that the population will be more susceptible to catching the flu when flu season hits.
It is recommended that people still continue to get the seasonal flu vaccine in order to prevent hospital admissions, reduce severity of illness and help stop transmission rates. If you have any questions or concerns you should discuss these with your GP or approved vaccinator.
Self-isolating when symptomatic
If you have symptoms suggestive of flu, you should remain at home and avoid going to work or to study until your symptoms resolve. This helps protect others, especially those who may not be able to be vaccinated. If you are unsure use the symptom checker or speak with your GP.
Staying careful and hygienic in high-risk settings
Proper hand washing or use of hand sanitiser and social distancing has all become standard practice during the pandemic. This has not only helped control the spread of COVID-19, but it has also helped reduce the spread of influenza as well.
As restrictions ease, it's important to keep those aforementioned COVID-safe practices going, in order to help keep yourself and others safe from the flu (and COVID-19).
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All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.