NSW Health is urging higher risk individuals including pregnant women, children aged under five years, seniors and Aboriginal people to book in now for a free flu shot.
With international borders reopening, increased social mixing and lower exposure to influenza over the past two years, people will be more vulnerable to the virus.
Executive Director, Health Protection NSW, Dr Richard Broome said the vaccine rollout commenced last month, as Federal Government supplies became available.
“Orders have already been distributed to many aged cared facilities, Aboriginal Medical Services and pharmacies, and will continue over the coming weeks,” Dr Broome said.
Everyone six months and older is recommended to get a flu jab but particularly those high risk groups, as the virus is extremely contagious and potentially deadly.
“If you live in an aged or disability care facility, are aged over 65 or are immunocompromised, now is the time to book in. We also recommend a COVID-19 winter booster, as both flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time.”
People aged 65 and over are recommended to have the enhanced quadrivalent vaccine (Fluad® Quad) which stimulates a greater immune response in this age group who are known to have a weaker response to vaccination.
For the first time this year, free flu vaccine for those aged 65 years and over will also be available from pharmacies. When people book, they should ask their pharmacist or GP about the right vaccine for them and importantly, that the service has it in stock. Providers can order further doses of vaccine throughout the season.
Flu vaccine is free for children aged six months to under five years; Aboriginal people; pregnant women; people aged 65 years and over; and others at higher risk of severe flu illness such as those with diabetes, serious heart, lung, kidney or liver disease, immunosuppression and obesity.
While the flu vaccine is free for those at higher risk of severe influenza, some providers may charge an administration or consultation fee. Ask your GP or pharmacist if this applies to you.
Everyone is urged to take simple precautions to protect each other, such as:
• Stay at home if you are sick and avoid close contact with other people to protect yourself and the community from flu and COVID-19.
• Sneeze into your elbow instead of your hands.
• Wash your hands thoroughly and often.