Twenty-six people, including three children, have died of flu in Victoria during the current season, authorities say.
Cases of the flu began being reported in summer, with the early start to the season blamed on people travelling when the flu is at its peak in the northern hemisphere.
“We are seeing a lot of communicable diseases spread through overseas travel, that’s certainly been the case in terms of measles cases and flu cases,” Health Minister Jenny Mikakos told reporters.
“We have seen a very significant summer flu season this year as a result of people coming back from the northern hemisphere with the flu and that spreading in the community.”
Of the 26 fatalities, 23 are aged care residents.
Ms Mikakos said the death of three children was unusual.
“(Juvenile flu deaths) do tend to be associated with situations where there might be other illnesses and vulnerabilities involved with those children,” she said.
Authorities are urging Victorians to get a flu vaccine.
The federal government has a program of flu vaccines for vulnerable people, expanded by the the state government, making it free for children under five years old.
“We have put in an order for a record number of flu vaccines this year, two million flu vaccines for Victorians are available,” Ms Mikakos said.
Australian Associated Press