Barr said there were two main strains of influenza A circulating: H3N2, which accounted for about 75 percent of cases tested in his lab, and H1N1 (descendants from swine flu) that accounted for 25 percent of cases.
Barr said the H3N2 strain affected all groups but older people are most likely to be hospitalized.
He said the strain of the H1N1 pandemic mainly affected young children and school-age children, and in the recent large outbreaks in Sydney where children landed in hospital, it was the strain that was responsible.
The early flu season appears to have taken many by surprise. As of May 22, only 25 percent of Victorians had had the influenza vaccine this year, and less than 13 percent of children under the age of five.
The flu vaccine is already free through the National Immunization Program for people aged six months to five years and over 65 years of age, but age Following similar moves by the NSW and Queensland governments, it is reported that there are imminent plans for the state government to expand the program to everyone in Victoria who is six months of age or older.
A health source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that GPs would be reimbursed for any private stock they used, provided they did not charge their patients, and Pharmacists will be paid a service fee for free administration. Vaccines for people over the age of five, provided they do not charge their customers.
The source said anyone in Victoria would be eligible, even if they didn’t have a Medicare card.
The state government will not comment on the timing or details of the expected announcement.
Victorian former deputy chief health officer, infectious disease physician Professor Alan Cheng, said his message to the public was “to wear a mask and try to stop the spread of COVID and the flu as much as possible.
“Just because you don’t have to do something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it now,” Cheng said.