Australia’s influenza cases have soared by more than 40 percent over two weeks as the nation heads into winter.
According to the latest Australian Influenza Surveillance Report (AISR) for 2023 from the Department of Health, there had been 57,816 confirmed influenza cases and 57 deaths in the country as of May 28.
The figure represents an increase of 43 percent from the 40,318 cases reported as of May 14.
The report warned that children have accounted for a disproportionately high number of infections, with 5-9, 0-4 and 10-14 the three age groups with the highest notification rates.
Since surveillance began in April, 76 percent of influenza cases who were admitted to hospitals across Australia were younger than 16.
Experts have expressed concerns over the low rate of influenza vaccine uptake amid children.
Paul Kelly, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO), in March wrote to vaccination providers urging them to stress the importance of inoculation in the lead-up to winter.
He said at the time he was particularly concerned about vaccination rates among children younger than five.
Under the National Immunization Program, flu vaccines are free for children aged between six months and five years. ■