DOUBLE WHAMMY: Influenza, coronavirus to hit at same time

A BALLINA GP has called for the general population to protect themselves against the common flu this season by vaccinating themselves, as this year's flu season is expected to coincide with a possible outbreak of COVID-19 virus.

Dr Chris Jambor from Grant St Clinic has 30 years of experience as a medical doctor, and has called for people to make use of this year's flu vaccine.

"The forecast is that, if it becomes a pandemic, COVID-19 will arrive at the same time as the normal influenza outbreak, so people are not going to know if they've got influenza or if they've got COVID-19," he said.

"The COVID-19 is different (to the influenza virus) we don't have all the information yet, we don't have effective treatment, it's a whole different ball game and it's going to come.

"That's when the fear will come too.

"We want people to get their flu vaccine, but we don't want them to be fearful and not access their GP, and put their mind at ease.

"We are coming into the flu season, and every year the government produces a vaccine that is based on the most prevalent flu in the previous winter season in the Northern hemisphere.

"The vaccine that will be available to every GP will be sufficient to cover people for the flu that is out there in the community, and we are not anticipating anything more than the usual number of people getting the influenza virus."

Dr Jambor said people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and others, should ensure their pre-existing conditions were under control.

"What we are worried as doctors is that people will neglect their health, will avoid going to see their GP because they fear of contacting the COVID-19 virus," he said.

"We have seen examples of that here already.

"The Royal College of Australian General Practitioners, in its latest guidelines - and they are changing all the time - said that people with chronic conditions must make sure that their current medical condition is absolutely under control."

"If and when the pandemic hits, people who are the most at risk are in the best physical condition that they can be."