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Contrary to public perception, “the flu” is a deadly disease. In Victoria this year, at least 97 people have lost their lives to influenza. The majority of these deaths are amongst the elderly, who are particularly vulnerable to severe disease, but as made painfully clear by Rosie and Ben’s deaths, the flu kills young people too.

Medical evidence has shown that increasing vaccination uptake rates in children is the best way to decrease death rates, not just for children like Rosie, but for everyone else in society, including those at high risk, like the elderly, pregnant women, and indigenous Australians.

The reason vaccinating children is so effective is because children are much more likely than adults to get influenza each year, while they can also spread the infection easily to others. This is primarily because children have naïve immune systems that don’t fight off infections as readily as adults. Children also go to school, where other children with similarly naïve immune systems go each day, and air-born diseases may be easily transmitted.

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