Keep WSLHD safe: Vaccination best protection as we head into winter months

Everyone in NSW is being urged to ensure they are up to date with their recommended influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations in the lead up to winter.

The latest NSW respiratory surveillance report, published today, shows community transmission of COVID-19 remains at high levels and influenza activity is increasing rapidly.

Health Minister Ryan Park said as we enter the winter months staying up to date with recommended vaccinations is the best way to protect you, your family and the community from serious illness.

“Influenza is a serious disease in young children, and both COVID-19 and influenza viruses can have serious consequences for older adults, people who have chronic health conditions and those who are immunocompromised,” Mr Park said.

Vaccination remains the best protection against severe illness and now is the time to make sure you are up to date with the shots recommended for you.”

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said we are anticipating high levels of influenza activity over the coming weeks and months, so it is important people across NSW continue to do the little things that keep us all safe.

“There is plenty of stock of COVID-19 and influenza vaccines available at pharmacies and GPs, so please book in today,” Dr Chant said.

“We know there are high levels of COVID-19 circulating in the community and with a rapid increase of influenza cases this week, it is also important people continue to take simple precautions to protect themselves and each other.

This includes wearing a mask indoors when you can’t physically distance especially in healthcare and aged care settings, staying at home when you’re unwell and remembering to practise good hand hygiene.”

Those considered to be at higher risk of severe illness from influenza are eligible for a free influenza vaccine and include:

  • Children aged six months to under five years
  • People aged 65 and over
  • Aboriginal people from six months of age
  • Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
  • Those with serious health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, obesity, severe asthma, kidney, heart, lung or liver disease.

We can all take steps to help protect ourselves and our loved ones from COVID-19 and influenza, including:

  • Stay up to date with your recommended influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations
  • Stay home if you have cold or influenza symptoms
  • Wear a mask in crowded, indoor places
  • Get together outdoors or in large, well-ventilated spaces with open doors and windows
  • Wash or sanitise your hands often
  • Talk with your doctor now if you are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or influenza to make a plan about what to do if you get sick, including what test to have, and being assessed to determine if you are eligible for antiviral medicines
  • Don’t visit people who are at higher risk of severe illness if you have cold or influenza symptoms or have tested positive to COVID-19 or influenza
  • Consider doing a rapid antigen test before visiting people at higher risk of severe illness
  • Free RATs are now accessible to the community via some local councils, ServiceNSW and NSW Health services