CONFIRMED flu cases in the Grampians have increased by almost 1000 per cent since a year ago, new data shows.
The Department of Health's weekly influenza report from July 12 revealed there had been 830 confirmed flu cases in the region this year. There were 76 confirmed cases this time last year.
The Grampians region stretches from Ballarat to the South Australian border.
There have been more than 26,000 confirmed cases of influenza A and B in Victoria this year, which is an increase from 2018's total of 11,607. There have also been 52 deaths.
Horsham's Lister House Medical Clinic nurse immuniser and practice nurse Sharon Hedt said the clinic had experienced an increase of influenza type A and type B cases this year.
"There has been a huge jump in cases from a year ago. We've also seen more people in the community wanting vaccines, including parents for children," she said.
"A number of people have come into the clinic after feeling unwell and have tested positive for flu. I know that a number of people in the Wimmera have also been hospitalised.
"This year is projected to be the second highest year for flu cases in recorded history after 2017, and it's still trending up. The flu seaosn may run longer than usual."
In 2017 there were 48,200 confirmed cases of influenza in Victoria.
Mrs Hedt said the best way to avoid the flu was to get vaccinated, eat healthy and focus on hand hygiene.
She also said the clinic wasn't affected by the vaccine shortage earlier this year.
"We've had a good supply all year and still have plenty of stock. We've run flu clinics in smaller towns and had our doctors visit people in their homes," she said.
She said vaccines were free at the clinic for people aged 65 and older.
Priceline Pharmacy Horsham co-owner Cobie McQueen said the pharmacy had experienced a "very busy" flu season so far.
"We've had people coming in for vaccinations since mid-March, and we expect them to keep coming until late September or early October. The busiest time was around May," she said.
"There were a few weeks when everyone in Australia had to wait for more vaccinations to become available in Australia. Now there is plenty of stock."
Ms McQueen said the pharmacy had administered more flu shots this year than last.
"We've seen people come in who wouldn't normally get their shots. We've also had a lot more younger people get vaccinated, which is great for the whole community," she said.
"This is the first year we've been able to administer shots to 16-year-olds, while last year it was 18-year-olds."
See the latest Victorian Weekly Influenza Report below:
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