18 Aged Care Facilities 'Locked Down' Because Of The Flu
Nearly 20 South Australians have died from the flu this year, resulting in 18 confirmed lockdowns of aged-care facilities in a bid to curb outbreaks.
South Australia's flu season has reached never-before-seen heights, with more than 12,339 cases of the virus recorded so far this year, SA Health confirmed on Monday.
"This is an unprecedented year," SA Health Chief Medical Officer Professor Paddy Phillips told reporters.
"We have never seen influenza in these numbers at this time of year."
Out of those confirmed cases, there have been 17 deaths -- 13 of which occurred in residential aged care facilities.
"There have been five in one facility, two in another and one in each of six others," Phillips said.
While it isn't a requirement for residential aged care facilities to contact any state jurisdiction with information of an outbreak, it is a recommendation under aged care guidelines.
SA Health said it had been contacted about 53 outbreaks since January 1 and is aware of 18 aged-cared facilities entering lockdown during that period.
Phillips urged everyone to make getting a flu vaccination a top priority, as well as follow standard sanitary procedure -- wash your hands and benches, and cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing-- to minimise the spread of the virus.
Since it began distributing flu vaccines on April 1, SA Health has delivered roughly 456,000 doses to immunisation providers. Over the entire course of 2014, some 370,000 doses were provided, Phillips said.
"It would have been great if we could have had the flu vaccines since the first of January," the medical officer said.
"If we could get a year-round supply of the vaccine that would be effective as a one-off shot like measle and mumps then it would be a different ballpark. The trouble with flu is that every year it's different strains that circulate, so every year the vaccine manufacturers have to gear up to produce a different vaccine. "