Families will have more access to influenza vaccinations with the NSW Government lowering the age pharmacists can administer flu jabs to children from 16 years to 10 years.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said giving families more options to protect their children against flu is sensible, with the likely convergence of a COVID-19 pandemic with winter flu.
“Last year was the longest flu season on record and in 2017 more than 650 people in NSW died from flu-related conditions, and now we have COVID-19,” Mr Hazzard said.
“While the flu vaccine won’t combat COVID-19, it will help reduce the severity and spread of flu, which can lower a person’s immunity and make them susceptible to other illnesses.
“By allowing pharmacists to administer privately purchased flu vaccines to people aged 10 years and over, families now have more choice when booking-in for a flu jab”.
The NSW Government has invested approximately $130 million in the 2019-20 Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said this year’s flu vaccine is expected to be available from mid-April and she urges everyone who can be vaccinated to do so.
“Each year in NSW, we have hundreds of flu-related deaths and many of those who die were infected by the people they know and love who weren’t vaccinated,” Dr Chant said.
“Not only do you risk your own life by not getting vaccinated against flu but you can potentially spread the infection to others more vulnerable, like children and the elderly.
“This year’s flu vaccine will be specifically tailored to the strains we expect will pose the greatest risk but as always, call ahead to ensure your GP or pharmacist has your dose.”
Last year, around 2.5 million doses of Government-funded flu vaccines were distributed across NSW. This year, it is expected more than 2.6 million doses will be made available.
People aged 65 and over, pregnant women, Aboriginal people and those with high-risk medical conditions can be vaccinated for free by GPs under the National Immunisation Program. The free NSW-funded vaccine is available to all children aged six months to five years.
Amendments to the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation 2008 to lower the age that pharmacists can supply and administer a private market influenza vaccine to include people aged 10 years and over, are expected to come into effect by mid-March.