Due to an increase in number of influenza cases in Australia, people will be given access to a stronger flu vaccine for 2016. More than 93,000 Australians were diagnosed with the flu in 2015.
"A sharp rise in flu cases combined with an unusually severe 2015 influenza season in the northern hemisphere has forced the Health Department to concoct the stronger vaccine for next year," said Sussan Ley, Health Minister.
‘A steep increase in influenza cases due to favorable climatic conditions has made the government to update their vaccine to immunize four strains instead of the existing three strains.
Ley admitted that a government decision to delay the release of the 2015 immunization could also have contributed to the higher than expected number of cases, saying that a mutated strain meant authorities had to update their vaccines before releasing them to the public.
Ley said, "The new 2016 vaccine immunizes against four strains instead of three and will be available free to the people who most need it".
Influenza B contributed to 62 percent of all cases, which is covered by the vaccine and the health minister has encouraged everyone, regardless of age and health, to get the shot before 2016's season to avoid falling ill.
In Australia, pregnant women, those with existing medical conditions, senior citizens and most Indigenous Australians are eligible for a free influenza vaccine. All other Australians are required to pay a small fee in order to get the shot.