Vaccination calls made as flu rates double

TWICE as many people have fallen sick with the flu in the Metro South health district compared to the same time last year.

Data from Queensland Health shows that 1859 lab-confirmed cases of influenza have already been reported across the Metro South health district so far this year.

Metro South health operates Beaudesert, Logan, Redland, QEII Jubilee and the Princess Alexandra hospitals.

Almost 850 people have been hospitalised with the flu across Queensland out of the 10,409 who have already fallen sick.

Beaudesert Medical Centre GP and obstetrician Jaime Hurley had previously warned residents to get vaccinated to avoid getting sick.

"It is important to get vaccinated every year because the vaccine is based on the predicted prevalent strains of influenza, which change every year," she said.

"The best time to get vaccinated is sometime between now and the end of May, so that even if you are exposed to a flu virus your immune system will be ready for it and you will be less likely to become severely ill."

So far this year, the number of lab-confirmed influenza cases is more than triple the five-year average for the same period.

About 80 people have been put into intensive care because of influenza this year.

More people have fallen ill with Influenza A, with 9685 cases split between types H1N1 and H3N2 already clocked up this year.

Four strains of influenza, that include type A's Michigan (H1N1) and Switzerland (H3N2) and type B's Phuket and Colorado, are included in this year's quadrivalent vaccines.

The available trivalent vaccines have the Michigan, Switzerland and Phuket strains.

Free higher immunogenicity trivalent vaccines are available for those older than 65.

The age group is at greater risk of serious complications from influenza infection and have the highest influenza-related number of deaths each year.

The enhanced vaccine for seniors does not provide protection against the Colorado B strain but is considered as able to provide better and broader protection against Michigan, Switzerland and Phuket.

Flu season in Queensland generally peaks during August.

Those eligible for free flu shots

- all children aged from six months to under five years.

- pregnant women

- people 65 years of age or older

- Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people

- people with certain medical conditions which increase the risk of influenza disease complications

All other Queenslanders can buy the flu vaccine from their doctor or immunisation provider.