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Free flu shot for at risk residents

Eligible residents across the Tablelands will get their chance to access a free flu vaccination shot after clinics were opened in both Atherton and Mareeba. PICTURED: Clinical Nurse Janet Stonadge

With flu season rapidly approaching and the very real threat of COVID-19 still affecting the country, at risk Tablelanders will get the chance to receive a free flu vaccination.

Immunisation clinics will be run in both Atherton and Mareeba over the coming weeks and are free for at risk residents.

People who are 65 years or older, pregnant women, children from six months to five years, all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people six months and over, and all individuals ages six months and over with a medical condition predisposing them to severe influenza are eligible for the free flu shot.

The clinics are run out of Essential Fitness in Mareeba and the Merriland Hall at the Atherton Show Grounds on Tuesday and Thursday respectively.

Alyson Martin, a Clinical Nurse from Atherton Community Health has stated the importance of staying safe this flu season.

“We’re encouraging all Tablelands residents to get their flu shots to protect themselves from getting the flu,” she said.

“These free clinics are especially for our vulnerable community members.

“Anyone who is not eligible for the free vaccine should see their regular GP or pharmacist.”

Tropical Public Health Services Cairns Director Dr Richard Gair said that the region has already recorded 17 cases of influenza this year.

“At this early stage it’s not possible to say what sort of a flu season we will have this year,” he said.

“Last year we had 642 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza including 47 that required hospitalisation.

“However notified cases are always only the tip of the iceberg, many more cases occur who may not be so sick as to go to the doctor or may not be tested.”

Members of the government have also stressed the importance of getting a flu shot especially now with COVID-19 and the threat it poses.

The vaccine provided does not protect against COCVID-19 but can reduce the severity of influenza which can have devastating effects when coupled with a respiratory illness like COVID-19.

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young has stressed the damages influenza can do when coupled with COVID-19 and is advising all Queenslanders to get their shot.

“It is important to get vaccinated to prevent possible influenza- related hospitalisations at the time of an international pandemic,” she said.

“Flu season in Queensland is typically from June to October with the peak usually in August.”

The free clinics are by appointment only, to organise your flu shot in Mareeba contact 4092 9146 and for Atherton phone 4091 0227

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