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Health News

Should Australia vaccinate children against COVID-19?

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Should Australia vaccinate children against COVID-19?
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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

Should Australia vaccinate children against COVID-19?

Experts suggest vaccination of children must be part of Australia’s exit strategy, especially with the Delta variant.

As a result of the current Greater Sydney COVID-19 outbreak with the Delta variant, we have seen numerous school children exposed, with hundreds of students from affected schools having to test and self-isolate.

Recent reports from countries such as Indonesia, Singapore, Israel and the UK also suggest a spike in the number of school children exposed to the more transmissible, Delta variant.

Currently, the US is vaccinating children over the age of 12, with Singapore prioritising the vaccination of 12 to 18-year-olds ahead of adults aged 19 to 39 years. The UK recently approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine in children aged 12 to 15.

Is it time Australia considered vaccinating children? Professor Raina MacIntyre, Head of the Biosecurity Program at the Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney, thinks so.

“Yes, if vaccination is to be our exit strategy from the pandemic, it is essential that children are vaccinated, especially as more transmissible variants like Delta are becoming dominant globally,” said Professor MacIntyre.

“Initially, we should start as soon as possible with children 12 years and over. Kids in this age range transmit as much as adults. Eventually, we will also need to look at younger kids as other countries are doing, looking at six years of age and over.”

More children with Delta variant
Why are we seeing more children and young people being infected with the Delta variant as opposed to previous strains of SARS-CoV-2? Professor MacIntyre explained while there is still not enough firm evidence, data coming out of the UK suggests Delta has more predilection for children.

“There have been many school outbreaks, including in Sydney. Partly, it could be that adults are more highly vaccinated, which then pushes infection into younger unvaccinated groups. But it also could be a genuine increase in the risk of symptomatic infection in kids. We have also seen child-to-child transmission in the current Sydney outbreak. This makes schools a high-risk site.”

In a recent article published in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA), Professor MacIntyre made reference to two peer-reviewed studies around long COVID in children. One study estimated more than seven per cent of children aged 2 to 11 years who contract SARS-CoV-2 will develop long COVID. The other study found over half of children between 6 and 16 years of age with COVID-19 had at least one symptom lasting more than four months, with 42.6 per cent suffering impairment of daily activities.

Professor MacIntyre said when considering the life expectancy of children, arguably they have the most to lose from persistence of the pandemic so they should be included in any vaccination program.

“We have known since last year that kids aged ten and over transmit as effectively as adults. The data are more mixed in kids under the age of ten, but Delta seems to be able to cause outbreaks in younger kids.”

In the MJA article, Professor MacIntyre; Dr Andrew Miller, President of the Australian Medical Association’s WA branch; and Dr Julie McEniery from the QLD Paediatric Quality Council. suggested the stakes have been raised with more transmissible variants such as the Delta strain, and vaccination of children must be part of Australia’s exit strategy.

“For economic recovery, our best bet is herd immunity, and we will never know if we can achieve it unless we try.”

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Flu numbers explode, over 65s most at risk

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Flu North Coast
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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

Flu numbers explode, over 65s most at risk

 

By Tim Howard

An explosion in flu cases across the state has prompted North Coast health authorities to urge people over 65 to book in for their free flu jabs as the virus continues to surge across the state.

Director of North Coast Population and Public Health Dr Valerie Delpech said a recent surveillance report revealed there had been a 25% jump in flu diagnoses in a week.

“Flu is rapidly increasing across the state,” Dr Delpech said. “In the past week alone presentations to NSW emergency departments increased by almost 22% for people with influenza-like illness.

“We are expecting the flu season will be around for several weeks to come, so now is the time to book in for your free flu vaccine to get the vital protection you need.”

Dr Delpech said the more elderly, who were in greater need of the protection vaccination offered, were lagging behind in vaccination rates.

“At present, just half of people 65 and over (52.4 per cent) in NSW have received their flu vaccine,” she said.

The doctor said with influenza, COVID-19 and RSV all circulating in the community, health services reminded the community to avoid visiting high-risk settings including hospitals and aged care facilities if they are experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness.

“Vaccination is the best protection against infection and severe disease,” Dr Delpech said. “Everyone, but particularly those at increased risk of severe disease, is urged to get vaccinated now. By getting vaccinated you also help protect those around you.”

She said the influenza vaccine was free and readily available for those at higher risk of severe illness from influenza from GPs for any age group, as well as through pharmacies for everyone aged five years and over.

Flu North Coast

South Grafton pharmacist Michael Troy was part of a successful campaign for a law change to allow pharmacists to vaccinate against the flu. He urges people to get regular flu shots ahead of every flu season.

Those considered to be at higher risk of severe illness from influenza who are eligible for free vaccination include:

  • people aged 65 and over
  • children aged six months to under five years
  • Aboriginal people from six months of age
  • pregnant women
  • those with serious health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, severe asthma, kidney, heart, and lung disease.

Dr Delpech said there were some simple steps people could take to protect themselves and loved ones from respiratory viruses like COVID-19, influenza and RSV, including:

  • Stay up to date with your recommended influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations
  • Stay home if you are sick and wear a mask if you need to leave home
  • Get together outdoors or in large, well-ventilated spaces with open doors and windows
  • Avoid crowded spaces
  • Consider doing a rapid antigen test (RAT) before visiting people at higher risk of severe illness
  • Talk with your doctor now if you are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or influenza to make a plan about what to do if you get sick, including what test to take, and discussing if you are eligible for antiviral medicines
  • Don’t visit people who are at higher risk of severe illness if you are sick or have tested positive to COVID-19 or influenza
  • Practice good hand hygiene, including hand washing.

 

For more health news, click here.

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Health Insurance Premiums Skyrocket, Some by 15% or More: CHOICE

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NSW-Northern-Rivers-Breaking-News
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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

Health Insurance Premiums Skyrocket, Some by 15% or More: CHOICE

 

Should You Consider Self-Insurance? Plus Other Tips to Save!

Consumer group CHOICE has found that many Australians faced significant increases in their health insurance premiums in April, with some premiums rising as much as 17%—far higher than the annual average industry-wide price increase of 3.03%.

“CHOICE reviewed the prices of over 24,000 policies with hospital cover and found Gold policies had the highest premium increases, with average increases above 10% for HBF, HCF, HIF, and Australian Unity policies. One Gold policy in Western Australia even saw a 17% hike,” said CHOICE health insurance expert Jodi Bird.

“With these sky-high increases, it’s worth taking the time to review your health insurance to ensure you’re only paying for what you need, and that you’re getting it at the best possible price,” Bird added.

CHOICE’s Top Tips for Saving on Your Health Insurance

  1. Drop Gold Hospital Insurance

“Gold hospital cover has become too expensive. If you have a specific condition usually covered by Gold policies and want to use the private hospital system, look for a Silver Plus policy or consider self-insurance.”

Self-insurance is an alternative to private health insurance. Instead of paying an insurer, you save money yourself to cover private health costs as they arise. If you don’t need any health treatment, your savings will grow.

“We have found that in some cases, opting to self-fund your health care can be the better-value option,” Bird explained.

For example, cataract surgery, one of the most common surgical procedures in Australia, is often only covered by the most expensive Gold policies. CHOICE’s analysis showed that the annual cost of top-cover health insurance could exceed the out-of-pocket cost for a private cataract procedure.

“This option may only be suitable for people who have few health issues and do not anticipate any unexpected health events. And of course, you need to ensure you have the money set aside in case you require a surgical procedure or treatment in the private system,” Bird advised.

  1. Compare Policies to Find a Good Deal

“We always recommend comparing policies to find the best value policy to suit your needs. The same cover with a different insurer may save you hundreds of dollars a year. Look beyond the well-known big funds and consider smaller funds; switching to a smaller fund often provides a cheaper deal,” said Bird.

“If you’re unsure where to start, CHOICE has an independent health insurance comparison tool that allows you to compare thousands of policies from over 40 insurers,” Bird suggested.

  1. Do You Need Extras Insurance?

“The value of extras insurance really depends on the individual. It can be worth purchasing, but only if you use it enough that it pays out more than the premiums that are coming out of your pocket,” Bird noted.

“If you need extras insurance, shop around and buy your extras from a different provider than your standard hospital cover if you find a better deal,” Bird recommended.

Compare health insurance policies here: CHOICE Health Insurance Comparison Tool

 

For more health news, click here.

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NSW Seniors Urged to Book Free Flu Vaccine Amid Rising Respiratory Illnesses

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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

NSW Seniors Urged to Book Free Flu Vaccine Amid Rising Respiratory Illnesses

 

People aged 65 and over are being strongly urged to book their free influenza vaccine as respiratory illnesses continue to rise across NSW.

The latest NSW Health Respiratory Surveillance Report, released today, indicates a rapid increase in influenza activity in NSW, with COVID-19 transmission also reaching high levels.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr. Kerry Chant reported a 27% increase in influenza notifications and a 23% increase in COVID-19 notifications for the week ending 25 May compared to the previous week.

“While everyone aged six months and over is urged to get their influenza vaccine as soon as possible, it is particularly important for those at higher risk of severe illness from the virus,” Dr. Chant said.

“Influenza immunisation rates aren’t where they need to be. Less than half of people aged 65 and over in NSW have received their influenza vaccine this year. We really need to see that number go up, especially as people in this age group are among those most at risk of severe illness.

“We expect the number of influenza cases to quickly increase in the weeks ahead, so now is the time to get vaccinated if you haven’t already done so.”

The influenza vaccine is free and readily available for those at higher risk of severe illness from influenza. It is available through GPs for any age group and through pharmacies for everyone aged five years and over.

Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (SCHN) Infectious Diseases Paediatrician Dr. Phil Britton noted that influenza notifications are increasing across all age groups, particularly among young children aged three to four years.

“In recent weeks, we have seen influenza cases rising among young children. The best thing parents can do to keep their kids well this winter, and reduce the risk of them being hospitalised due to influenza, is to ensure their children receive a flu vaccine,” Dr. Britton said.

Free Flu Vaccination Eligibility:

  • People aged 65 and over
  • Children aged six months to under five years
  • Aboriginal people from six months of age
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with serious health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, severe asthma, kidney, heart, and lung disease

Steps to Protect Yourself and Others from Respiratory Viruses:

  • Stay up to date with recommended influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations
  • Stay home if you are sick and wear a mask if you need to leave home
  • Gather outdoors or in large, well-ventilated spaces with open doors and windows
  • Avoid crowded spaces
  • Consider doing a rapid antigen test (RAT) before visiting people at higher risk of severe illness
  • Talk with your doctor now if you are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or influenza to make a plan about what to do if you get sick, including what test to take, and discussing if you are eligible for antiviral medicines
  • Don’t visit people who are at higher risk of severe illness if you are sick or have tested positive for COVID-19 or influenza
  • Practice good hand hygiene, including regular hand washing

For more information and to book your vaccination, visit your local GP or pharmacy.

 

For more seniors news, click here.

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