Page 961 - Week 03 - Thursday, 22 March 2018

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Today I released material outlining what the ACT now needs to consider in terms of the royal commission’s criminal justice report. I look forward to hearing views from a wide range of people in the community to help shape this legislative reform. Our reforms will focus on ensuring that criminal law and processes in the ACT are fair to survivors of sexual abuse, witnesses involved in the court processes and those accused of offences.

Members of the public who would like to be involved in this can access the fact sheets and the questions on which we are consulting from the government’s your say website.

Health—childhood flu vaccination program

MR PETTERSSON: My question is to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing. Can the minister provide an overview of the ACT government’s recently announced flu vaccination for children aged up to five years?

MS FITZHARRIS: I thank Mr Pettersson for the question. The ACT government is introducing a childhood flu vaccination program that will provide a free flu vaccine to all children aged between six months and five years. The free vaccine will be available either directly through general practitioners or through ACT Health early childhood immunisation clinics from next month in time for the start of this year’s flu season.

Flu is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. It is spread from person to person by virus-containing droplets that are produced during coughing or sneezing. Flu can cause very serious complications, such as pneumonia and even death in otherwise healthy people, although the risk is higher for people with underlying medical conditions and children under the age of five. The flu vaccine reduces the chance of getting the flu and suffering its potentially serious complications.

Flu vaccination in young children under five years has been shown to reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalisation and the potential for death in this group in our community. Young children can also contribute significantly to flu transmission in the community and vaccination of this age group can provide protection to the broader community.

MR PETTERSSON: Can the minister outline how this vaccination will be rolled out?

MS FITZHARRIS: This program will start next month, just as the seasonal flu vaccines become available to our community. Parents and carers will be able to access the vaccine through their child’s usual immunisation provider, whether that be a regular GP or through ACT Health’s early childhood immunisation clinics. Children in this age group receiving the flu vaccine for the first time require two doses a minimum of four weeks apart.

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