“It could save your life”: WA GPs in flu vaccination push

Royal Australian College of GPs

The Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) has urged all Western Australians to help keep themselves and their community safe by visiting their GP and receiving a flu vaccination ahead of winter.

It comes following the Western Australian Government announcing free influenza vaccines for all patients older than six months during May and June. A federal Health Department report into the 2023 influenza season found that it peaked earlier and lasted longer than in previous years before the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccine coverage rates were lower last year than in 2022, and there are concerns that this trend will continue in 2024.

RACGP Western Australia Chair, Dr Ramya Raman, urged patients to roll up their sleeves.

“Peak flu season is fast approaching, and we must do all we can to get people vaccinated,” she said.

“I welcome the Government making flu vaccinations free for all patients. Influenza is a serious virus that claims lives every year. In 2023 alone, there were close to 300,000 influenza cases, 3,696 hospitalisations, and at least 376 flu-related deaths reported. It’s not just older people and those with serious underlying conditions who need to be mindful of this virus, even otherwise fit and healthy people can end up in hospital in a very serious condition.

“GPs and practice teams are once again leading the way and doing our very best to vaccinate as many people as possible in our communities. I fear that vaccine fatigue has crept in, and complacency is taking hold. If that remains the case, the flu will have a particularly severe impact in Western Australia this year. Getting vaccinated can make all the difference, it could save your life.”

Dr Raman said that general practice was the best place to receive your vaccination.

“Get your flu vaccine with your local general practice,” she said.

“When a patient visits their general practice to receive their flu jab, it is an opportunity for the GP to also address other health issues. This is part of the comprehensive care general practice offers when patients come in for their vaccinations, especially for children as it is an opportunity to pick up and address any developmental concerns.

“I urge all people to be patient and respectful towards practice staff, including the reception team, when booking in their flu vaccination. We are doing our best and understand the importance of delivering these vaccinations in a timely manner.

“Please spread the message far and wide – getting your flu vaccination is so important. This virus must be taken seriously, so encourage all people in your life to roll up their sleeve and get vaccinated ahead of the winter months.”

Outside of May and June, free flu vaccines are also available for people considered most at risk of severe illness including:

  • pregnant women (at any stage of pregnancy)
  • people over 65
  • children from six months to Year six
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 6 months
  • people who are immunocompromised or have serious medical conditions.

/Public Release.