Surprise flu strain not part of this year's vaccination

Queensland Health's Dr Sonya Bennett talks about the flu strain that has hit the state. Photo Adam Davies / APN NewsDesk
Queensland Health's Dr Sonya Bennett talks about the flu strain that has hit the state. Photo Adam Davies / APN NewsDesk Adam Davies

REGIONAL Queenslanders are among the 18,500 people who have reached for tissues this year after a flu strain surprised authorities and roared back to life.

An outbreak of the B Brisbane flu strain has the state heading for one of the worst flu seasons on record.

More than 12,645 people have been struck down with the flu strain - with notifications over the past three weeks accounting for 48% of the state's total.

Queensland Health communicable diseases unit executive director Dr Sonya Bennett said on Tuesday the Brisbane strain was not included in this year's subsidised flu vaccinations.

She said normally influenza B strains are usually less severe than influenza A strains.

"The World Health Organisation sets the annual flu vaccine composition based on what strains are prevalent in the Northern Hemisphere at the time," she said.

"There are often two types of B flu strain in circulation during the flu season, with one strain usually predominating and no way of predicting which strain that would be from year to year.

"It is difficult to predict when the flu season will be over but figures suggest we are nearing or have reached the peak."

Dr Bennett said the B Brisbane strain was first detected in 2008 and was included in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 flu vaccinations.

She said the flu vaccine takes up to two weeks to be effective and it may not be too late to protect yourself.

"Being vaccinated gives you the single best protection against flu by building immunity to the virus and preventing transmission of the virus to other people," she said.

"While Queensland does have among the highest number of notified flu cases in Australia, this is not unusual.

"Our excellent testing and reporting mechanisms may contribute to the fact that that our numbers are often higher when compared with other jurisdictions."


Topics:  cold editors picks flu health sick vaccination

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