Doctor fears global flu pandemic "long overdue"

DOCTORS are preparing for what could be a deadly flu season with a pandemic long overdue.

Ann Street Family Medical GP Wayne Herdy said studies had shown a global wave of influenza last hit more than 10 years ago.

"The pandemic cycle usually comes, on average, every seven years," Dr Herdy said.

The current flu season in China and Hong Kong had resulted in more than 300 deaths.

This is more than the SARS outbreak of 2003, though that strain of influenza had a higher death rate.

Queensland Health public health physician Dr Margaret Young said now was the time to make an appointment to get the flu vaccination.

"Funded vaccines will start on April 20," she said.

"This start date is later than most years because two of the three strains that the vaccine commonly provides protection for are different to last year.

"This change has led to manufacturing delays."

More than 1100 cases of influenza were notified for Sunshine Coast, Noosa and Gympie council residents last year and that was only the people tested by a doctor.

The number was 50% higher than the average notifications for 2009 to 2013.

Similarly, across Queensland more than 18,000 cases, about 70% higher than the average for the previous five years, were notified last year.

Dr Young said flu notifications started to increase from June to July and peaked about eight weeks later.

The number of notifications for influenza to the start of March this year are similar to the number of notifications at the same time last year.

Free influenza vaccine is available for all Australians aged six months of age and over who have medical conditions that can lead to severe influenza.

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