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Australia‘s health system is bracing for a surge in flu cases in winter, with more than 10,000 cases already reported this year and low flu vaccination rates across the country.

Only 15 per cent of Aussies have had this year’s flu vaccine since it became available in April, compared to the 49 per cent of the population who had received the jab by this time last year.

Meanwhile, up until May 8, almost 11,000 cases of flu had been recorded in Australia, compared to the just 240 cases that had been recorded at this time in 2021.

Sick baby with fever. Baby getting temperature checked.
The number of flu cases in Australia is much higher than last year. (Getty)

NSW Australian Medical Association President Dr Danielle McMullen told Today Australians are much more vulnerable to the flu than they were last year because COVID-19 restrictions hindered the spread of the virus.

“Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic we closed our international borders so there was much less flu coming in, we did all our social distancing, wore masks, all those measures did a fantastic job of stopping the flu. We had none,” she said.

Dr McMullen has warned flu can be deadly, advising people to take precautions, just as they did to combat COVID-19.

“Influenza can be a life-threatening illness in kids, pregnant women, older people – anyone really – so it is just important that all Australians should be vaccinated,” she said.

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“Wear a mask, wash your hands, keep a distance again, again, again.”

The flu vaccine is available free for over 65s, children under five, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and those with certain medical conditions.

For all other Australians, it’s available for less that $25 at GPs and pharmacies.

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