NSW Health is urging people to get their flu shot by the end of May to protect themselves against the deadly bug this winter.
NSW Health’s Director of Communicable Diseases, Dr Vicky Sheppeard, said the flu vaccines are now available at most GPs, Aboriginal Medical Services, and for children, at most council and community health services that routinely provide childhood vaccination services.
“Vaccination is your best protection against the flu, so we encourage you and your loved ones to get vaccinated against this deadly infection this winter,” Dr Sheppeard said.
“The best time to have the flu vaccine is in April or May to ensure your protection doesn’t wane before the flu season peaks. The vaccine takes two weeks to be fully effective.
“The World Health Organization advises this year’s flu vaccine will be a better match to the circulating strains and offer higher protection than last year. It’s very important to have the appropriate vaccine, for example, people over 65 years of age need to have the special higher dose vaccine that targets their age group.”
The NSW Government will spend a record $22.75 million on statewide immunisation programs in 2017-18, including $1.75 million for an immunisation campaign and $3.5 million for free flu shots to children up to five years of age to boost protection against flu in NSW communities.
Flu shots are available for free to members of the community who are pregnant, children up to five years of age and people over 65 years of age, most Aboriginal people and those with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart problems.
Vaccination is the best protection against the flu, but the following steps also help prevent the spread of influenza:
· Cough and sneeze into your elbow;
· Clean your hands;
· Stay home when sick.
Local Health Districts across NSW will be implementing their winter plans for local hospitals, which include procedures for allocating additional resources during periods of high demand, providing free flu vaccinations for frontline health staff and promoting good hygiene practices that help fight the spread of flu.
“We urge everyone to get the flu jab to build our immunity in the community and beat the flu bug this winter – it could save your life,” Dr Sheppeard said.
For more information about influenza, see the NSW Health website.