flu vaccine
As health officials prepare to promote flu season jabs for West Australians, new figures show only half of all health workers caring for our sickest patients get vaccinated.

Department of Health figures show that 50.4 per cent of nurses, doctors and other health workers were vaccinated last year against the deadly influenza virus.

That figure was only 4.8 per cent higher than in 2017 despite an effort by health bosses to increase the rate through an initiative to force workers to "actively decline" vaccinations.

The new rules meant that any workers refusing to be vaccinated had to explain why they were declining.

But despite the poor coverage, DOH bosses are refusing to consider compulsory vaccinations.

The Communicable Diseases Network Australia's best practice target is 95 per cent coverage.

The Federal Government last year made it compulsory for residential aged-care facilities to provide vaccinations for all workers. The new rule didn't make the flu jab compulsory

This came in the wake of the deadly 2017 flu season which killed 546 people, 90 per cent of whom were aged 65 and older.

Comment: And yet event those who did accept the vaccine in 2017 were then told that, at the very least, it was ineffective: UK: Ineffective flu vaccine contributed to 50,000 extra deaths last winter - ONS

University of Notre Dame pro vice chancellor Professor Selma Alliex said the Fremantle campus was making it compulsory for all health students to be vaccinated this season.

Prof Alliex said the priority should be for patients to be protected, rather than students practising a choice of whether to be vaccinated.

She said staff would also be offered free vaccination for the first time this year.

Last year the campus had close to 100 per cent of students vaccinated, and about 80 per cent of staff vaccinated.

"I'm surprised that the coverage for WA's healthcare workers is so low (at 50.4 per cent) when it's common sense for vulnerable people in our hospitals not to be exposed to infection," Prof Alliex said.

Comment: There's evidence that vaccinations lead to the recipient actually shedding the virus.

"The priority should be on the patients' health but the situation we have is that vaccination is still viewed as a personal choice."

Comment: This rhetoric illustrates quite clearly that the health authorities intend for vaccination to be mandatory - but will it just stop at health care providers? What about people who visit family in hospital or their elderly parents in care homes? Where would it end?

People are being urged to wait until late May or early June before getting the jab so that the vaccination is potent throughout the flu season.

Comment: Even if vaccine science wasn't totally flawed, as it is, even vaccine advocates admit that the flu virus is extremely difficult to plan for.

More than 1400 cases of the flu have been diagnosed in Perth in the past eight weeks, almost double the number of this time last year and three times more than in 2017.

Medical authorities are hoping more than 11 million Australians will get the flu shot before winter.

The Federal Government is offering free flu shots for the over 65s, indigenous people aged over six months and people with certain medical conditions.

Pregnant women are also eligible for a free flu vaccine.