National Seniors Australia today supported moves for a more effective flu vaccine for the elderly, after what it called a “dreadful winter” that claimed the lives of numerous aged care residents.
National Seniors’ Chief Advocate Ian Henschke welcomed news that Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy was working on ways to strengthen the National Immunisation Program, including holding talks with manufacturers on new and strengthened vaccines.
“More than 217,000 Australians had the flu this year - more than twice the previous record of just over 100,000 people in 2015,” Mr Henschke said.
“We also had 504 deaths linked to flu and many of these were older people.
“We need to ensure this isn’t repeated in the future.”
Mr Henschke said it had been reported last month that the manufacturer of a super-strength flu vaccine for the elderly had “submitted a dossier” to the Therapeutic Goods Administration and begun discussions with the Prof. Murphy about the product.
It’s understood the conversation was kickstarted Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, who asked Prof. Murphy to look at ways to boost the strength or effectiveness of the flu vaccine next year.
Mr Henschke said National Seniors also supported Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt’s commitment last month to investigate ways to boost vaccination rates among aged care workers, including making the flu vaccine compulsory.
“We don’t want to see older Australians or, indeed, anyone dying from a preventable illness like the flu,” Mr Henschke said.
National Seniors Chief Advocate Ian Henschke is available for interview.
Media contact: Lynda Schekoske 0488 047 380 or Rosemary Desmond (07) 3233 9106.