With Winter just around the corner, NSW Health is urging anyone who has not yet had a flu shot to visit their GP to get vaccinated.
Dr Jeremy McAnulty, Director, Health Protection NSW, said each year an estimated 800 to 1000 people die from flu-related illnesses in NSW.
“Vaccination offers the best protection from flu. This year’s flu vaccine covers the four influenza strains likely to circulate in Australia,” Dr McAnulty said.
“We encourage all people to have the vaccine, and particularly vulnerable groups who have a higher risk of a severe illness if they catch the flu.”
The annual flu vaccination is provided free of charge to pregnant women, Aboriginal people aged six months to five years and over 15 years of age, everyone aged 65 years or over and people with a medical condition that puts them at high risk of severe flu, such as severe asthma, heart disease or diabetes.
“Flu activity during last year’s winter was higher than usual,” Dr McAnulty said. “The number of people presenting to emergency departments with flu-like illness was also above the expected range.”
NSW Health received a total of 35,409 influenza notifications from late June to late September in 2016 and at least 191 patients with influenza were admitted to intensive care or coronary care units.
“Many people with chronic medical conditions don’t realise that their condition puts them at greater risk of severe flu,” Dr McAnulty said.
“It is also vital pregnant women have a flu shot as they have a higher risk of hospitalisation, pre-term delivery and possibly death if they catch the flu. The vaccination is safe and also provides protection in the infant’s early months.”
The following precautions can also help stop the spread of influenza:
- Cover your face when you cough or sneeze
- Throw away used tissues straight away
- Clean your hands thoroughly and often
- If you are vulnerable to severe influenza see your doctor as soon as flu symptoms start as early treatment of flu can help prevent complications.