NSW Health is urging those yet to have their flu shot this year to do so now, as influenza is still spreading around the state.
NSW Health’s Director of Communicable Disease, Dr Vicky Sheppeard, said even though we are nearing the end of winter when the risk is greatest, people can still be struck down with the flu all year round.
“The flu can affect people of all age groups, even those who are fit and healthy,” Dr Sheppeard said.
“Vaccination is your best protection against the bug and it’s still not too late to get the jab.
“There are plentiful supplies of influenza vaccine and we urge parents of children under 5 years of age, those over 65 years and others vulnerable to the flu to visit their GP as soon as possible.”
The latest weekly Influenza Surveillance Report shows 4,424 flu cases for the week ending 4 August, down from 6,126 notifications the previous week, taking the yearly total to 69,055. There have been 21 additional deaths of people aged over 25 years reported, bringing the annual total to 127 confirmed influenza deaths.
“Just like the common cold the best precautions people can take against the flu are to ensure they wash their hands thoroughly, cover their coughs and sneezes and stay home if they are unwell,” Dr Sheppeard said.
“We are encouraging people who are sick to stay away from elderly relatives or friends until they have recovered, as they often have chronic or complex conditions that are aggravated by influenza.”
Dr Sheppeard said 2.48 million doses of Government-funded flu vaccines have been distributed across NSW, including over 199,000 doses for children six months to three years, and 1.18 million doses for people 65 years and over.
Flu shots are free under the National Immunisation Program for pregnant women, people over 65 years of age, Aboriginal people and those with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart problems.
The NSW Government continues a strong investment on statewide immunisation programs including $2.6 million for free flu shots to children up to five years of age and a $1.5 million immunisation and influenza awareness campaign.
The NSW Government will invest about $130 million in the 2019-20 Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines.