Peter Malinauskas, Premier of the state South Australia (SA), on Sunday announced that flu vaccines would be made free until June 30 effective immediately amid the ongoing battle against Covid-19.
Previously, only pensioners, young children and immunocompromised people were eligible for free flu vaccines, with everyone else facing out-of-pocket costs, reports Xinhua news agency.
Malinauskas said the move would relieve pressure on SA’s hospitals amid a spike in flu and coronavirus infections.
“We must do everything we can to ensure as many South Australians as possible are immunized against both Covid-19 and influenza to ease pressure on our hospitals,” he said.
“The dual challenge of broad community spread of Covid-19 and influenza at the same time during winter threatens to put further pressure on a hospital system already facing significant demand.”
Until May 8, there had been 10,599 confirmed influenza cases in Australia compared to fewer than 1,000 in 2021 amid coronavirus restrictions and border closures.
Chris Moy, vice president of the Australian Medical Association, welcomed the decision to make flu vaccines free.
“It’s an important move, not only to increase access to people who could not previously have been eligible or afforded it, but also as an important signal to all South Australians to get a flu shot as overflowing hospitals face their first true flu season in three years,” he told the local media.