Australia to offer free flu vaccinations to toddlers

Canberra, Feb 24 : Toddlers in the Australian state of Victoria will be offered free influenza vaccinations following a severe 2017 flu season.

Jill Hennessy, Victoria's minister for health, announced on Saturday that the shots will be available for children aged between six months and five years from May onwards, reports Xinhua news agency.

More than 3,941 children younger than five years old were hospitalized in Victoria alone during the 2017 flu season, up from 871 the previous year.

Eight-year-old Rosie Anderson died from the flu in September just a week after contracting the virus.

More than 385,000 are expected to receive the free vaccinations, costing the state (Dollar) 2.74 million.

While the number of children who caught the flu more than quadrupled, cases in the general population also rose to more than 13,000 compared to around 7,000 the previous year.

Hennessy called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to expand the National Immunization Program (NIP) to include children.

"We're ensuring kids aged under five can access a free flu vaccination before another deadly flu season starts - and we'll keep pressuring Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals to protect Victorian kids permanently," she said in a statement.

"Victorians were hit hard by last year's flu season, and kids weren't immune.

If Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals won't protect our kids from the threat of the flu, we will."



Source: IANS