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Byron Shire
May 8, 2021

Flu season is ‘smashing’ the north coast

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The north coast is experiencing an early flu season.
The north coast is experiencing an early flu season.

Labor’s NSW Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord has called for a campaign to combat the anti-vaxxer movement on the North Coast following the release of figures showing the region is being ‘smashed’ by influenza.

Mr Secord said outside Sydney, the north coast has the highest number of cases of the flu, with 13.7 per 100,000 people being affected. Only Western Sydney and Sydney’s north shore had higher rates in NSW.

‘This follows a major whooping cough outbreak in May where there were almost 40 confirmed cases in a single week,’ Mr Secord said.

He attributed the higher rates of infection on the north coast to ‘small elements in the community who are reluctant to get vaccinations for themselves and loved ones’.

‘As of today for 2017, there have been almost 6,550 (6,548) cases State-wide including 2,576 notifications in June, almost double the number of flu notifications in June last year,’ he said.

‘In NSW, so far, this year, there have been 18 influenza outbreaks in nursing homes with at least 246
residents with flu symptoms and 25 hospitalisations. Fourteen deaths have been linked to these outbreaks – but they also had significant co-morbidities.’

Mr Secord said the State Government knew the flu season was on the way, but it was not prepared – with data showing that presentations exceeded the seasonal threshold for influenza-like illnesses in emergency departments.

‘The flu season is smashing NSW emergency departments and it is only going to get worse,’ he said.

‘Due to the State Government’s failure to properly prepare, the additional flu patients in emergency department mean other patients have to wait longer.

‘The last thing that the NSW health and hospital system needs is to see hundreds of extra patients pouring into emergency departments with preventable flu symptoms.

‘The health and hospital system is already at breaking point. It is under enormous pressure.’

Meanwhile, the North Coast Public Health Unit has today confirmed that the annual flu season had arrived early on the region.

The unit has received 393 flu notifications in the first six months of this year, including 174 notifications for the month of June.

‘The flu season is expected to peak in the coming weeks, so now is a good time to get vaccinated if you haven’t already done so,’ Director of North Coast Public Health, Paul Corben, said.

‘This year’s flu vaccine covers the four influenza strains circulating in Australia.

‘Flu vaccination is free for higher-risk groups, including pregnant women, people with certain chronic medical conditions – such as severe asthma, diabetes or heart disease – and Aboriginal people aged six months to five years, or over 15 years,’ Mr Corben said.

‘Vaccination is the best protection against seasonal influenza. Those eligible for a free vaccine should make an appointment with their local doctor as soon as possible. Other people should see their GP or chemist.’



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  1. I never get a flue vaccine and I never get the flue because I eat a diet that maintains my immune system. Walt Secord displays typical retrograde ignorance like too many of our politicians who are so ready to adopt a retrograde view espoused by pharmaceutical companies and corporations. The people really, really need representatives with a LOT more wisdom than we constantly see displayed. People like Walt Secord are potentially dangerous to everyone’s health because they don’t have the slightest idea of how to naturally maintain it.

    • Trying to link the advice of a shadow health minister and Pharmaceutical companies is absolute nonsense. The advice on vaccination comes from government health departments who employ people with a medical and epidemiological background. Our own departments employ public health expertise, and the process is managed by public servants who are bound by public servants acts not to receive payments or other benefits – I can only speak for the Commonwealth and the NZ governments where gifts and payments from companies is very tightly controlled, but would expect the situation is similar in State departments and other developed countries . Epidemiological research is mainly done in universities – like ANU and QLD for example and other publicly funded bodies, and done across all of the developed and many developing countries – it’s funding sources are quite different from pharmacological research. Health departments world wide provide similar advice and it is in general “pro-vax.” To postulate that pharmaceutical companies could break through the research protocols of all of the epidemiological research bodes in all of the developed countries, and then corrupt public officials in all of those countries do that they would provide our NSW shadow minister with false information is ridiculous. Quoting individual or kid’s experience, in the face of carefully undertaken research over large populations over decades is irrelevant.
      The comment on flu and colds above is correct but what is under dissuasion is is influenza (there would have been literally millions of colds in NSW any winter). Ordinary people do not need to ” do the homework” or “do their own research” . Our health departments have done that and any GP will be across the epidemiological advise on vaccination and the recent medical advice on flu vaccinations and be able to apply it to the individuals situation. People can discuss the matter with the GP and others should refrain from ill-informed comment on the subject.

  2. My son was one of the school students who came down with whooping cough in the recent outbreak. He attends a school that is frequently described in the media as anti-vax. I have never seen any figures published to show that his school vaccinates at a lower level than the surrounding community. My son is vaccinated, and caught it anyway- for the second time. It would be interesting to see the number of those who were infected last term broken down into vaccinated and unvaccinated. As we frequently hear how we should all be vaccinated to protect high risk groups, why are free vaccines only offered to those deemed high risk? Surely free vaccines should be available to all who choose, if the goal is to protect us all. I don’t quite get the logic of saying we should all be immunised, and the frequent vilification of those who don’t immunise, and then not offering free vaccines to the entire community to protect those who are vulnerable. Is it a financial decision or a public health decision?

  3. Hello Chris,

    You say a lot but what evidence do you have and, more importantly, are you willing to put other peoples lives on the line because of your (undoubtedly) unsupportable beliefs.

    The 21 Century should be the age of science not scare mongering. It’s a well established fact that vaccinations save lives and has probably been the most significant medical breakthrough – ever.

    Yeah there are problems with how many pharmaceutical companies operate but they are not evil, nor are the drugs/vaccinations that they produce.

    • I am pro vaccination for vaccines that are proven to work. I feel rather sceptical about the flu vaccine as it relies on being able to “predict” the upcoming flu strains. It is also needed annually, unlike other vaccines that either give lifetime immunity or at worst need a booster.

      I also realise it’s the best we have at the present time so maybe it’s worth having…

  4. I’d really like to know how many of the 300 odd people representing with ‘the flu’ have actually got ‘the flu’. So many people who just have a cold call it ‘the flu’. It is over exaggerated. I myself cannot t remember when I last had a proper dose of the flu – well over 20 years at least – and I never have had the flu vaccine.

  5. Our politicians never letter a good sneeze go to waste…

    Science not fear – OMG – are you kidding, drug companies not evil? What planet are you from. Ever heard of Mylar? Catlyst? Turing? Valeant? Questor? Do your homework

    • I would happily have a flu vaccination if it was 100% effective but it doesn’t seem to work. More people than ever are having the flu vaccination and more people than ever seem to be getting the flu and dying from it.


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