The Premier of South Australia (SA), Peter Malinauskas, announced on Sunday that flu vaccines would be made free until June 30, effective immediately, in the midst of the ongoing battle against Covid-19.
Previously, only pensioners, young children, and immunocompromised people were eligible for free flu vaccines, with everyone else having to pay out of pocket, according to Xinhua News Agency.
Malinauskas stated that the move would relieve pressure on SA’s hospitals during a period of increased 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.”
There were 10,599 confirmed influenza cases in Australia as of May 8, compared to fewer than 1,000 in 2021 due to coronavirus restrictions and border closures.
The Australian Medical Association’s vice president, Chris Moy, applauded 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.