A $1.75 million campaign to tackle the flu season will urge people to get their jab early and clean their hands regularly to avoid a repeat of last year’s influenza epidemic.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the 2018 flu campaign focuses on four simple measures to beat the bug, which affected more than 128,000 people in NSW last year.
“The Don’t Spread Flu – It’s In Your Hands campaign has some straightforward messages on how to limit the spread of influenza and help save lives,” Mr Hazzard said.
“More than 650 people died in NSW from influenza last year. It should be a wake-up call to the community to take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.
“Like our campaign says it’s in your hands, so get your flu shot early, cough into your elbow not your hands, wash your hands regularly and stay at home if you are sick.”
The NSW Government will spend a record $22.75 million on immunisation programs in 2017-18, including $3.5 million for free flu shots to children up to five years of age.
As part of the 2018 campaign, UV light “germ detectors” will be set up at some transport hubs and shopping centres so people can test their hand cleanliness.
NSW Health’s Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said frequent hand washing is one of the first lines of defence against another flu epidemic, together with early vaccination.
“The World Health Organisation advises this year’s flu vaccine will be a better match to the four circulating strains and offer higher protection than last year,” Dr Chant said.
“We urge people to get their flu jab when the vaccine is available in April to ensure they are protected ahead of time, as the vaccine takes two weeks to be fully effective.”
Flu shots are free for pregnant women, children up to five years of age and people over 65 years of age, Aboriginal people and those with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart problems.
How you can help fight the spread of flu:
- get your flu shot
- cough and sneeze into your elbow
- clean your hands
- stay home when sick.