CANBERRA, Dec 3 (Bernama) -- Australian Health Minister Nicola Roxon on Thursday urged Australians to shed their complacent attitude and make sure their families are vaccinated against A/ H1N1 flu, China's Xinhua news agency reported.
As the vaccine became available for children as young as six months on Thursday, Roxon said high A/H1N1 infection rates in North America were concerning.
"We are in a global battle against this pandemic," Roxon told reporters.
She advised all families to be vaccinated before the new school year, but preferably before Christmas.
Roxon said the A/H1N1 flu season that struck overseas this year was earlier than expected and could well be the same in Australia.
While the vaccine has been available for months, only 5 million doses have been administered from the stock of 21 million doses.
"We're always worried that when protection is available that they take advantage of it, that they not be too laidback in an Australian way to protect themselves against something that could be a big risk in the future," Roxon said.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration approved Panvax Junior for young children on Thursday. The A/H1N1 flu vaccine will be free for all children between 6 months and 9 years within two weeks.
The urgent message to vaccinate children ahead of this flu season comes after health statistics in Canada and the United States revealed worrying trends.
Children under nine years will need two doses for the vaccine to work fully. The first dose provides good protection, and the second dose taken 28 days later will boost the initial shot.