CANBERRA -Australians have been urged to get the influenza vaccine to ease pressure on the public health system amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly on Wednesday lauded the more than 6 million Australians who have already had the vaccine in 2020.

“Now is the time to get your flu vaccine. I can say we now have 15,967,000 doses of flu vaccine have been made available here in Australia,” he told reporters.

“I can say at this stage, compared with last year, two times the number of people have had their flu vaccine compared with 2019, which means over 6 million people in Australia have had their flu vaccine.”

“I would encourage people, especially people and vulnerable groups to go out and get their flu vaccine as soon as you can.”

By comparison, a then-record 12.5 million influenza vaccines were made available in 2019.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has previously declared that the flu vaccine is more important than ever amid the coronavirus pandemic because a combination of both diseases “could be life threatening.”

As of Wednesday afternoon there had been 6,975 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, an increase of 13 in the last 24 hours.

The national death toll has risen to 98 after an 81-year-old woman from New South Wales (NSW) who became infected on board the Ruby Princess died on Tuesday. She was the 22nd death linked to the ship.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was tested for the virus for the second time on Tuesday night after suffering a coughing fit in Parliament but said on Wednesday morning that the test came back negative.

Kelly confirmed on Wednesday that the government’s coronavirus tracing app, COVIDSafe, is now fully functional with all states and territories having signed up for it.

All states and territories have now been trained to use it and know what information they are going to get and how it can be used for contact tracing purposes,” he said.