WA flu shots: Mark McGowan urges West Australians to take up free influenza vaccine

Headshot of Bethany Hiatt
Bethany HiattThe West Australian
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Dr Christabel Samy administers a flu vaccination to premier Mark McGowan at her Rockingham medical practice.
Camera IconDr Christabel Samy administers a flu vaccination to premier Mark McGowan at her Rockingham medical practice. Credit: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

Mark McGowan will spend up to $20 million on rolling out a free flu jab, warning that WA could be in for a bad flu season this winter after two years of mostly closed borders.

As revealed by The Sunday Times, West Australians will be given free flu shots from Wednesday in a bid to stop hospitals being flooded with influenza patients at the same time they are battling an ambulance crisis and COVID.

Asked on Sunday how much the initiative would cost, the Premier — who is also State Treasurer — could not provide an exact figure, saying it would depend on demand.

“I think it’s in the 10 to $20 million mark that we have budgeted for this,” Mr McGowan said.

“It just depends upon how many people want to take it up. But that is money well spent when you’re saving lives.”

“Because we have open borders now, it’s a strong chance we’ll have high numbers of flu cases coming into WA and therefore potential spread of the flu around WA.”

Mr McGowan said while WA had the highest rate of COVID-19 vaccinations in the country, it had the lowest rate of influenza jabs, even though flu could also be “deadly”.

“We want to try and prevent as many people as possible getting the flu,” he said.

Dr Christabel Samy administers a flu vaccination to health minister Roger Cook at her Rockingham medical practice, watched by premier Mark McGowan.
PICTURE BY NIC ELLIS    THE WEST AUSTRALIAN
Camera IconRoger Cook also received his flu jab at Rockingham medical practice. Credit: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

“Some people sadly die from it, and it puts additional pressure on our hospital system.

“We’re currently at around 20 per cent of people in the State are vaccinated for the flu — we want to significantly lift that because if you get the flu and COVID at the same time, your health outcomes can be very bad.

“So the best way of protecting yourself against both of those is to be vaccinated for COVID and vaccinated against the flu.”

The free flu jabs will be available during June at government-run vaccination clinics on a walk-in basis and from participating pharmacies and doctors.

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