Date published: 
22 June 2022
Media type: 
Media release
Audience: 
General public

The Australian Government today launched an $11 million six-week campaign to encourage people to get vaccinated for both COVID-19 and influenza this winter and underlined the availability of antivirals for those most vulnerable to severe effects of COVID-19.

For the first time since 2019, we have the double threat of significant community transmission of both COVID-19 and influenza – with the likely outcome being a continued increase in case numbers over coming months.

Health professionals and hospitals are reporting increased numbers of people seeking treatment for respiratory illness. Vaccination is key to protecting against severe illness.

It is vital all eligible people keep up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations and, if they haven’t already done so, have their annual flu jab as soon as possible.

Further, the Government noted two oral antiviral treatments – Lagevrio and Paxlovid – are available from local pharmacies for those most vulnerable to severe effects of COVID-19. People are encouraged to talk to their GP about the right treatment for their health needs.

More than 1.3 million courses of antivirals have been purchased by the Government to help protect people who remain at risk of progressing to severe illness from the virus, even when up to date with their vaccinations.

While most of us will only experience mild symptoms, for older Australians and those with some underlying medical conditions antiviral treatments can be effective, often preventing hospitalisation. One of the big advantages of these drugs is that they can be taken at home.

However, timing is critical. COVID-19 can move from mild to severe illness very quickly. It’s vital to start the five-day antiviral treatment course when symptoms first appear. 

People are encouraged to check if they are eligible for an antiviral treatment and discuss options with their doctor.

The new Australian Government communication campaign will commence tomorrow. There are four components to the new winter vaccine communication campaign:

‘Take on winter’ – to remind Australians to stay up to date with COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations to protect themselves from serious illness.

‘Wintertime is the best time’ and ‘Boost’ advertising for First Nations audiences – reminding this community that no matter where they are, it is important they get an influenza vaccine, stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations and get boosted.

‘Kids will be kids’ – to increase COVID-19 vaccination among children by addressing parents’ safely concerns and highlighting the quality and effectiveness of the vaccines.

Materials reflect the diversity in our community and will be adapted and translated to also target people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

QUOTES FOR ATTRIBUTION TO MINISTER BUTLER

“Vaccination is the key to ensuring you have maximum protection this winter against COVID-19 and the flu – and the Australian Government has today launched a new communications campaign to drive home this important message.

“This winter, we have the threat of significant transmission of both COVID-19 and influenza – and already we are seeing increased numbers of people seeking treatment for respiratory illness from health professionals and hospitals.

“If you are eligible for a COVID-19 booster dose, or haven’t yet had your annual flu jab, make an appointment today to get vaccinated.

“It can take up to two weeks for the flu and COVID-19 vaccines to provide maximum protection, so it is important you don’t delay making any vaccination appointment.

“There are also oral treatments available from your GP for those at highest risk of severe COVID – but timing is crucial. So now’s the time to have that discussion with your health professional.”

Ministers: