Help protect the elderly during flu season

Source: SF Gate

Visitors to aged care facilities in NSW are urged to get vaccinated against flu, with more outbreaks of the potentially deadly virus so far this year than for all of 2018.

NSW Health Director of Communicable Diseases, Dr Vicky Sheppeard, said anyone considering visiting an aged care facility should get a flu vaccination and if they are unwell to stay away.

“People in aged care homes are highly vulnerable to flu which is why it’s so important to be vaccinated against it, if you are visiting loved ones regularly,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“Most of those who have died from flu-related complications this year have been elderly but all of us are at risk unless we protect ourselves and those we care about.

“Our hospitals have seen an unprecedented number of flu cases this year, as has the rest of the country, so please, roll up your sleeve and go and get your flu jab now.”

NSW continues to have supplies of flu vaccine for state funded programs. Free vaccines are available under the National Immunisation Program for those aged over 65 years, pregnant women, Aboriginal people and those with serious medical conditions.

Figures show there have been 50 influenza outbreaks in NSW aged care facilities as of 2 June and 14 deaths, compared with an annual total of 42 outbreaks in 2018.

The latest Influenza Surveillance Report shows 2345 flu cases for the week ending 2 June, up from 1934 notifications the previous week and 49 confirmed deaths.

  • NSW Health is working hard to stop the spread of the flu and care for elderly people in the community by supporting a range of programs including: 
  • BRACE Aged Care Rapid Response Team: a multidisciplinary service aiming to provide a timely assessment of frail, older people in the community, either in their own homes or residential aged care facilities 
  • Geriatric Flying Squad: a program for clinicians to treat elderly flu and gastroenteritis patients in aged care facilities 
  • FluInfoKit: a guide for aged care facilities to prepare and respond to flu outbreaks
  • Public health units supporting and monitoring influenza outbreaks, including supplying antivirals when requested

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