Residents reminded to get their flu shot

NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant, WSLHD chief executive Graeme Loy, Blacktown & Mount Druitt hospitals a/director of nursing and midwifery Rola Tawbe, expectant mum Becky Endosowman, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, expectant mums Anne Marie Scerri and Aryln Yu, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Blacktown Hospital general manager Ned Katrib.

The community is being reminded to get their flu vaccine with the launch of the 2019 flu campaign at Blacktown Hospital today. 

The NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard launched the campaign at the hospital’s women’s health clinic, where expectant mums were getting their flu shots to protect themselves and their babies.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said free vaccines were available for those most vulnerable, including pregnant women, those over 65 years old, and anyone with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.

“Flu vaccines have now been delivered across NSW with more to come, so now is the best time for you to get vaccinated,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“The vaccine is very safe and cannot give you the flu. Best of all, it is free for those most vulnerable and offers them the best protection.”

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said pregnant women, young children and the elderly will be a major focus of this year’s flu campaign. 

Pregnant mothers Anne Marie Scerri, Aryln Yu and Becky Edosowman with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. All three expectant mums have had their flu shot this season.

“Getting a free flu shot is the best protection for expectant mums and will help protect newborns in their first few months of life. It also the best protection for young children,” Mr Hazzard said.

Western Sydney Local Health District public health unit director Dr Shopna Bag said there are more than 9,600 confirmed influenza cases in NSW already this year.  

 “Call ahead to your GP or pharmacist to get your flu jab,” Dr Bag said.

“One million flu vaccines have now been delivered across the NSW.”

Free flu vaccines are available for pregnant women, Aboriginal people, those aged over 65, and anyone with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease due to their higher risk of more severe flu illness. 

Hospitalisation rates for influenza are highest in young children with recent national figures showing about 100 per 100,000 in those aged six to 23 months.

Dr Bag outlined the importance of the vaccine to the community. 

Melissa Vella with her newborn baby Dominic and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Melissa received her flu shot last week.

“While we might all take flu for granted as a common winter disease, it can be deadly,” Dr Bag said.

“In 2017, we had a significant flu season where more than 650 people died across the NSW.   

“We cannot afford to be complacent.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks with Blacktown Hospital’s expectant mums.

The NSW Government has invested about $130 million in the 2018-19 Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines.

Free flu vaccines for children aged from six months to under five years of age are being provided under the NSW Government’s $2.6 million program.

Experts have recommending sneezing into your elbow, washing your hands regularly and staying home when sick to reduce the spread of flu.

“Last year, we avoided a repeat of the bad 2017 flu season, but we cannot be complacent so please, go get your flu jab,” Mr Hazzard said.

** Editor’s Note: B-roll footage available for download here:

A video packaging capturing today’s event is available here: