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By Melissa Grant

Doctors are urging parents to vaccinate their children against the deadly flu virus to help prevent a repeat of last year’s horror outbreak.

The flu shot is free for Victorian children between six months and five years, an age group particularly vulnerable to the virus.

With winter fast approaching, parents are being advised to urgently book their family in for the vaccination, which gives the best protection against the dreaded flu.

“The time is now. We had a horror season last year it was the worst since 2009,” Australian Medical Association vice president Dr Tony Bartone said.

“Influenza is a deadly condition. It’s extremely potent and it’s extremely risky towards someone’s health and wellbeing.”

Dr Bartone said parents weighing up whether to get their child vaccinated needed to know it was the best form of protection against influenza.

He said “99 per cent of the game” was having the flu jab and everything else – such as keeping healthy and safe hygiene practices – simply minimised the impact of an outbreak.

“It (the flu shot) is not 100 per cent effective, but is significantly effective in the younger members of the population,” Dr Bartone said.

“Who wants to see their little bub in hospital?”

Last year’s flu season was the worst since 2009, with almost 1100 deaths and hundreds of thousands of people falling ill across Australia.

While the elderly is the most severely affected age group impacted by the flu, young children are at high risk of encountering serious issues if hospitalised.

Dr Bartone said while it was impossible to prevent the flu, the vaccination was the best way to prevent another horror outbreak.

“If we immunise everybody we reduce the amount of influenza in the community and therefore its spread,” he said.

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