South Australia’s Education Department has issued an official alert to schools to be on the lookout for flu symptoms among staff and students following high rates of absence.
SA Health said more than 5,700 flu cases have been reported this year — almost three times the number recorded for the same time last year.
The department has asked schools to follow infection control procedures and have reminded parents to keep sick children at home until they have completely recovered.
SA Health chief medical officer Professor Paddy Phillips said the peak of the flu season was still to come.
He said 31 per cent of all flu cases were children under 10.
“We know that children can be hospitalised for influenza and in past years influenza has been one of the more common reasons for children being hospitalised for respiratory illnesses, so influenza can be a serious illness in children, just as in adults,” he said.
“It is important that everyone plays their part in reducing flu in the community by getting a flu vaccination, including school children.
“Flu immunisations are available from GPs, pharmacies and other providers, and I urge all parents to seriously consider immunising their children this winter.
“Flu immunisations have excellent coverage against circulating flu strains.”