Date published: 
18 April 2018
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

DAVID KOCH:

Flu season’s approaching and this year is predicted to be a bad one. Influenza claimed 1100 lives in 2017 and more than 250,000 Aussies tested positive for the virus. So, the Federal Government is stepping in and offering 4.5 million flu vaccines to the most at-risk Aussies. Two new vaccines are also being developed for people over 65, offering stronger doses for the first time. Joining me now, Health Minister Greg Hunt. Minister, thanks for joining us. Who are the people most at risk…

GREG HUNT:

Good morning.

DAVID KOCH:

… going to get these free vaccines?

GREG HUNT:

So there are 4.5 million free vaccines for this season’s flu vaccinations. It's focused on the over 65s, they’re the ones who are most at risk, Indigenous Australians and every Australian with what’s called a chronic condition. So a long-term enduring health condition which makes them more vulnerable. So they’re the groups that are vulnerable and they’re the ones that will get the free vaccinations. But we’re urging every Australian to have a vaccination, but 4.5 million free vaccinations.

DAVID KOCH:

Yeah, I was stunned. Ninety per cent of the deaths are over 65s. That’s incredible.

GREG HUNT:

That’s right, and obviously, each one of those lives is a terrible loss and a tragedy. The flu mutates from season to season. That’s why new vaccines are developed. This season we have, not only a stronger general vaccine, but we have two new vaccines for over 65s that are particularly focused on their needs and their vulnerabilities. So for every Australian over 65, we’d really encourage you to get you vaccination. It will be free, and for all Australians, we’d encourage you to take up flu vaccinations.

DAVID KOCH:

Do the rest of us have to get the three? You were saying over 65s will get three. Does everyone else have to as well?

GREG HUNT:

So what we have is that there are vaccinations for all Australians. It will be free for 4.5 million and if you’ve got a chronic condition and you’re under 65, that will be provided free of charge, otherwise people will pay from $11upwards.

DAVID KOCH:

When should we get it? Is it too early to get it now?

GREG HUNT:

No this is the window now that the chief medical officer and the medical advisory teams are recommending. So now’s the time to start to do it over the course of the next month, and that’s why we’re launching today, because the best medical advisors in Australia say: for optimal protection, for protecting individuals and the country, starting in mid-April is the best time.

DAVID KOCH:

Okay. That’s good to hear because you often get mixed messages about that. Minister, thank you for that. Beautiful morning where you are in Melbourne, appreciate your time.