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Bupa Health Services Medical Director Dr Tony MacDermott said historically low uptake of flu vaccinations could expose Australians to potentially avoidable harm.

“The flu season has been arriving earlier in recent years and we expect it to peak sometime in June, compared to August when the season peaked in years gone by,” Dr MacDermott said.

“The northern hemisphere flu season just gone has provided us with a glimpse of what we may see here soon – an earlier season than previous years with more cases and more hospitalisations.

“The flu is more than a bad cold, it can be deadly, and we shouldn’t underestimate it – now is not the time for flu vaccine complacency.”

Dr MacDermott encouraged people to get the flu vaccine before the end of May to help ensure they were covered throughout the flu season.

“We expect this year’s flu season to be as dangerous as last year, especially in combination with new COVID-19 strains that have hit Australia already,” he said.

“One of the easiest things you can do to protect yourself, your family and the community is to get a flu vaccine. This will also help take pressure off GPs and hospital emergency departments which are already under considerable pressure.”

Dr MacDermott said other measures to help protect against the flu included hand washing, staying home if feeling unwell and covering your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze.

Infants under six months, adults aged 65 years and above, people with chronic health conditions, and the indigenous community are the most vulnerable groups to the flu. The flu vaccine is available for free for these at-risk groups.

Advice for COVID-19 booster vaccinations for most adults aged between 18 and 74 is now one every 12 months. The previous advice of one every six months remains current for people aged 75-years-old and older.

Bupa has started delivering more than 52,000 flu vaccinations to organisations across Australia. They will be delivered onsite at workplaces and universities nationally and by our partnering pharmacies across more than 1,900 locations in Australia and New Zealand. 

Bupa corporate clients can still purchase flu shots for their employee and students.