Flurona warning: NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant calls for vaccinations for children

Health authorities have warned parents to protect their children from the dangerous “flurona” double infection by doing one fundamental thing.

Health authorities have urged parents to book children for flu shots as Australia braces for a triple wave of flu, Covid and colds.

Kerry Chant, chief health officer of New South Wales, warned residents that infection rates among children were building up as the flu and Covid combined to create a double infection dubbed “flurona.”

The state was hit with a flu season earlier than expected.

Dr Chant said parents should be aware that the flu is a “serious illness” for children under five and can lead to death in some cases.

“The flu is actually a reasonably serious illness in young children,” he said.

So far this year, eight children have been rushed to hospital with flu-like symptoms compared to an average of no hospitalizations in the age group in the same months from 2017 to 2019.

In 2017 and 2018, four children, all under the age of five, died from the flu in NSW.

The recent spate has seen doctors across the country demand that flu vaccines be thrown in state schools while children, affected by the flurona, continue to end up in hospital.

Dr Bruce Willett, president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners in Queensland, said the flu could kill children.

“We can’t be complacent and think that just because the coronavirus hasn’t been hard on children, the double infection won’t lead to serious health problems,” he said.

“Flurona is the unknown, but what we do know is that the flu shot is not free for children over five and this can be a deterrent to getting a protective vaccine.”

The community’s low immunity is a result of the closure of international borders and the country’s low flu vaccination rate, with many young children having almost no immunity against the virus.

Currently, only three percent of children under five have been vaccinated against the flu.

The data reveals that teens and 20-year-olds are the driving forces behind a growing number of people.

More than 35 Queensland residents have been co-infected with the virus, with 14 people hospitalized since January this year.

In the last week of April, 1024 new cases of influenza were reported in NSW, compared with 478 cases in the previous week.

A Victorian woman – who was 90 and not vaccinated – was confirmed as the first flurona death in the state this week.

She died in January and was one of six people in the state to contract both diseases at the same time.

Victoria’s health has urged people to make sure all their jabs are up to date before flu season.

“By vaccinating against both highly contagious infections, you are not only protecting yourself and those around you, but you are also helping to ease the pressure on our healthcare system,” a spokesperson said.

Originally published as Warning: urgent message from Kerry Chant’s “flurona” for parents