NSW Health is urging everyone to make sure they and their loved ones get immunised to protect against severe flu this year, particularly those in higher-risk groups.
Children under five, pregnant women, Aboriginal people, people aged 65 years and over, those living in aged care facilities, and anyone with medical risk conditions such as severe asthma, diabetes, and heart disease should all get their free vaccination to protect them from severe flu this winter.
While flu cases to date are significantly lower in NSW and throughout Australia than in previous years – most likely due to the public health measures which have been taken to limit COVID-19 transmission – that should not deter people from getting their vaccination.
Executive Director of Health Protection NSW, Dr Richard Broome said the flu shot is safe and it is vitally important to have the vaccination.
“While flu numbers are lower than usual at the moment, most likely due to the public health measures which have been taken to limit COVID-19 transmission, NSW could still experience an atypical flu season – one that begins later in the year or in the warmer months. Getting a flu shot is the best protection against this in the coming months,” Dr Broome said.
“It’s also important to remember that when booking your vaccines that you make sure to space your influenza vaccine and COVID-19 vaccines at least 14 days apart.”
The NSW Government will this year distribute more than three million doses of the flu vaccine to GPs, Aboriginal Medical Services, more than 400 aged care facilities, community health centres and 160 public hospitals for health care workers, with more than 1.9 million doses delivered so far.
People who are not eligible for a free flu vaccine can get it from their GP, Aboriginal Medical Service or pharmacist for a fee. NSW Health is also reminding GPs of the importance of the flu vaccine and to ensure they are contacting their patients.
Flu symptoms include a sudden high fever, cough (usually dry), headache, muscle and joint pain, feeling unwell, and a sore throat.
In arrangements announced last year by Minister for Health and Medical Research, Brad Hazzard, children over 10 are now able to get their flu vaccine at a pharmacy, down from the previous minimum age of 16.
The NSW Government has invested approximately $142 million in the 2020-21 Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines.