South Australians urged to get flu vaccine after more than 20,000 cases this year

THUMBS UP: Poppy Weetra and Milla Gardiner have both been vaccinated as South Australians battle against a high number of influenza cases this winter. Picture: Supplied

THUMBS UP: Poppy Weetra and Milla Gardiner have both been vaccinated as South Australians battle against a high number of influenza cases this winter. Picture: Supplied

There have been more than 20,000 cases of influenza reported in South Australia this year compared to 1579 at the same time last year and two Elliston girls who went to get their flu shots together are encouraging others to be brave and help stop the spread.

When Elliston Hospital's acting nurse unit manager Merle Weetra took her husband and daughter Poppy to the hospital to get their flu shots, Poppy was playing with friend Milla, the daughter of fellow hospital staff member Cindy Gardiner.

After seven-year-old Poppy got her injection she suggested Milla should get one too and helped her through the process.

"Poppy was the same as any kid getting an injection, she was not exactly looking forward to it," Mrs Weetra said.

"It was then her idea for Milla to get one too as she did not want her friend to get sick.

"It was very cute to see them together - Poppy held her hand and everyone was very brave."

Mrs Weetra said the hospital had been kept busy with flu shots this winter.

"We have done a lot of injections this season, a lot more than usual," she said.

"It is very important to get the vaccine as it is the best protection that can be provided against the flu."

SA Health communicable disease control branch director Dr Louise Flood said 613,000 doses of flu vaccine had been distributed across the state this year.

"We have distributed enough doses to reach 102 per cent of South Australians aged 65 years and over who are eligible to receive the free vaccine," Dr Flood said.

"In the state-funded program for young children aged less than five years, we have distributed almost 87,000 doses, which is 37,000 more than last year and enough to provide one vaccine to 96 per cent of all eligible children.

"Although we have distributed enough vaccine to reach more than 100 per cent of the eligible population, we still have a limited amount of stock on hand in our warehouse and while we don't anticipate any shortage, people may still need to shop around."