Health experts are calling on local residents to ensure they have received the flu vaccine, and if they are unwell with flu like symptoms to consult with their general practitioner.
The call comes after a sharp increase in influenza-like emergency department presentations at Eastern Health hospitals.
The figures reveal there was a 69.5 per cent increase in the period May-July 2017 compared to May-July 2016.
In May-July this year, there was a combined 2417 influenza-like emergency department presentations at Angliss, Box Hill and Maroondah Hospitals.
This is a sizable increase on 2016 when only 1426 influenza-like emergency department presentations were recorded at the three hospitals during the same three month period last year.
Eastern Melbourne PHN CEO Robin Whyte said the figures reinforced how important it was to get a flu vaccine.
“Although we are in August, it is still not too late to make an appointment with your local GP and receive a flu vaccination.”
Eastern Health Director of Infectious Diseases and Infection Prevention & Control, Associate Professor Mary O’Reilly, said the flu season is likely to be ongoing for a number of weeks.
She said the increase in flu-related presentations followed the high numbers of flu cases in the northern hemisphere over their winter.
Eastern Health Director of Emergency Services Dr Peter Archer said people with flu-like symptoms should consider seeing their local GP as an option for treatment, rather than a hospital emergency department.
“We will always see patients who present to our emergency departments. However, we also have systems in place so patients are seen in order of clinical urgency. That means patients with an immediate life-threatening condition will be seen sooner.
“With that in mind, a local GP is an option worth considering if you think you may have the flu. It will also help alleviate demand on hospital emergency departments.”
As well as getting a flu vaccine, Ms Whyte said GPs can provide expert advice on what symptoms of the flu are, and how they can
“Your local GP is here to help. It is also important to remember that GP services in your local area are also available after hours, so you can receive the round the clock support you may need.”
To find your closest GP, including after hours services, visit the National Health Services Directory website: www.nhsd.com.au
What are the symptoms of flu?
• Sore throat
• Nasal congestion
• Body aches
• Fatigue and
• Occasional gastrointestinal upset – diarrhoea and vomiting
For general information, visit the Better Health Channel website: www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au
For media inquiries, please contact Winston Tan (Eastern Health) 9092 6771 or Claire James (Eastern Melbourne PHN) 9046 0313.