You are more likely to catch both the flu and COVID in winter. There is a risk we will see a ‘twindemic’ that could overwhelm the health system again.

It is highly recommended that people get an additional booster (the fourth) dose of COVID vaccine to increase protection before winter. Vaccination for influenza is also recommended, particularly for people aged over 65.

Vaccinations are available from the Springs Medical CentreBlooms Pharmacy, and Central Highlands Rural Health.

It isn’t clear yet how severe the flu will be this year, but cases are already increasing and it is likely the flu will be much more of a problem this year because COVID restrictions have been dropped. Last year almost no one died from the flu because of the public health measures that were in place. But in 2017 and 2019, nationally, around 1000 people died in those years.

COVID remains a major problem. Currently each week around 200 people die from COVID. Most are aged over 65, but over 500 younger people have died in Australia from COVID, including around 15 children.

COVID transmission has proved difficult to prevent with 10s of thousands of cases a day. It is currently the second most significant cause of death in Australia after cancer. Australia now has one of the highest per capita rates of COVID in the world.

At least 6 million Australians have now had COVID and we are starting to see an increasing rate of people getting it for the second time. In the UK around 10 percent of cases are reinfections.

In Australia, most public health measures have now been dropped, there will be more international tourists and more people will visit locally. These changes and the coming of winter increase your risk of catching COVID.

Vaccination matters. A recent South Australian study showed that your chance of dying from COVID is 1 in 2000 if you have been fully vaccinated and three times higher (about 1 in 660) if you are unvaccinated.

Unvaccinated people are a risk to themselves and to others. Recent research shows that if you are vaccinated you are more likely to get COVID if you mix with unvaccinated people.

Apart from vaccination, wearing a good quality mask and avoiding close contact in high risk settings are the best things you can do to reduce your risk of catching COVID. Good quality masks are probably around 60-70 percent effective at protecting the wearer from COVID infection.