In Australia influenza kills 1,500-3,000 and 18,000 hospitalisations per year

In the public interest.

Influenza Fast Facts

  • Influenza (commonly known as “the flu”) is a highly contagious and potentially deadly disease that can be spread through coughing and sneezing.
  • In Australia, influenza on average causes 1,500 to 3,000 deaths,3 about 18,000 hospitalisations and 300,000 GP consultations1 each year.
  • Influenza is caused by a virus and causes more severe illness than the common cold. It can cause serious and debilitating complications, including pneumonia, especially in people that are vulnerable such as the elderly and other in the “at risk” group.
  • People with a chronic disease have a 40 times increased risk of death from influenza.
  • Annual vaccination is the single most effective measure to prevent influenza.
  • Only 42 per cent of the “at risk” group under 65 years of age are being vaccinated annually.2
  • Less than 50 per cent of healthcare workers, who are at a greater risk of contracting and spreading influenza, are being vaccinated against influenza annually.
  • 10 per cent of all workplace absenteeism associated with illness is due to influenza.


           1. Newall A, et al. Economic report into the cost of influenza to the Australian health system. March 2007

           2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.  2004 Adult vaccination survey

3. Deaths calculated by estimating the rate of mortality caused by influenza among those aged 50-64 years (1.3% of all deaths) and those 65 and over (2.8 % of all deaths)2; and applying this to the most recent Australian mortality data, whereby it is estimated that 132,662 Australians (16,964 aged 50-64; 115,698 aged 65 and over)4 within this age group died in 2008.

4. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 3303.0 – Causes of death, Australia. 2007.