AT RISK: Over-65s are among those most at risk of serious illness or side-effects as a result of the flu.
AT RISK: Over-65s are among those most at risk of serious illness or side-effects as a result of the flu. IMAGE POINT FR/SHUTTERSTOCK

Is this CQ's worst ever flu season?

CONFIRMED flu victims have topped the 800 mark in Central Queensland this year - a near 300 percent rise on the 2019 figures to this point.

The spike in influenza cases, which has claimed three lives in the region this year and more than 66 state-wide, has prompted authorities to renew a plea for people to get vaccinated against the virus.

To July 21 there were 814 laboratory-confirmed flu cases in Central Queensland compared with 208 cases for the same period last year (291 per cent increase).

That has stretched local health services with one flu victim yesterday telling The Morning Bulletin that after coming down with the flu at the weekend he could not get a doctor's appointment anywhere in town until Wednesday.

He said he had booked an appointment with House Call Doctor to attend his residence on Sunday evening but that was later cancelled because the doctor had fallen ill.

Last week Health Minister Steven Miles released figures showing the number of laboratory confirmed cases of the flu statewide had almost reached 29,000.

He said this year's diagnosed flu cases were more than three times higher than those at the same time in 2017, the worst flu year on record.

A Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service spokesman said flu vaccinations were the best protection available.

"This year the Queensland Department of Health is providing free influenza vaccines to all Queensland children aged between six months and five years through general practices and other childhood immunisation providers," he said.

Australia-wide the vaccine is provided free for those at risk of complications from flu including pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged six months and over, as well as people with certain medical conditions pre-disposing them to severe influenza.

"This year, people aged 65 years and older have access to a specially formulated enhanced flu vaccine," he said.

"While vaccination is the best way to defend yourself against the virus, it is also especially important to wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitiser, cover your mouth when you cough, and dispose of used tissues in the rubbish."