By Laura Michell
Almost as many Brimbank residents have been diagnosed with the flu in the first five months of 2019 as were diagnosed in all of 2018.
Data from the health department’s Local Government Areas Surveillance Report reveals that as of May 23, 338 Brimbank residents had been diagnosed with influenza.
The report shows that 366 people from Brimbank were diagnosed in 2018.
The data comes as health professionals warn of an “unusual” Victorian flu season.
Victoria’s acting chief health officer, Angie Bone, told 3AW last week the state had recorded five times the number of influenza cases compared to the same time last year.
She said there have been 23 deaths from the flu in aged care, while three children have also died from the illness so far this year.
“We’ve certainly got an unusual flu season…it started much earlier than we would expect,” Dr Bone said.
Brimbank GPs have reported an increase in the number of people being diagnosed with influenza, prompting IPC Health to offer free vaccinations at its Deer Park clinic.
Chief executive Jayne Nelson said IPC Health wanted to ensure as many people as possible were immunised against influenza.
“Having the flu vaccination protects not just the person, but the people around them,” she said.
“For some people, the flu many only be a mild illness. However, in vulnerable populations, particularly infants, children and the elderly, it can cause serious illness and even death.”
Ms Nelson said IPC Health’s GPs began seeing cases of the flu a lot earlier this year compared to last year, with people of all ages diagnosed.
She said the clinic had recorded an increase in the number of people having the vaccination.
The free vaccination is available at 106 Station Road.