Flu vaccination campaign launched with cases on the rise

THE 2014 flu season campaign has been officially launched with chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young and two mums having their annual influenza vaccination.

Dr Young said the vaccine was safe for pregnant women and babies six months and older, as well as the broader community.

"The risk of major side effects is extremely low so we recommend everybody goes and gets the vaccination now," she said.

"For pregnant women the vaccine offers protection to their baby for the first six months of their life, which is very important."

The need for Queenslanders to have the 2014 influenza vaccination is highlighted by the higher than average flu cases seen already this year.

Latest figures show Queensland has received 918 influenza notifications, more than two times the five-year mean, and more cases than any other state or territory in Australia.

Dr Young said regardless of the figures, everyone should get vaccinated now.

"The 2014 influenza vaccine is now available, and now is the time people should be having it to ensure they are properly covered in time for winter," she said.

Dr Young said each year the influenza vaccine reflected the circulating strains, providing the best protection against current strains of flu. This year there are two new strains in the vaccine.

"The predominant flu strain seen so far this year in Australia is H1N1, a sub-type of Influenza A, and people will be protected against this if they have the vaccine," she said.

H1N1, commonly referred to as Swine Flu, was the predominant strain seen in the northern hemisphere's winter.

The influenza vaccine is free for pregnant women, people aged over 65, Aboriginal people, and Torres Strait Islanders.