Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. There are three main types of influenza virus that cause infection in humans - types A, B and C - and many sub-types or strains. Influenza can occur throughout the year but in NSW influenza activity usually peaks in winter.
A recommendation from a healthcare provider to get an influenza vaccination is the single most important predictor for people actually getting their annual flu shot.
Recommending and providing annual influenza vaccination is particularly important for people at increased risk of complications from influenza infection, who are eligible for free vaccine under the National Immunisation Program.
See the NSW Health Immunisation Program influenza vaccine site for more information on influenza vaccine recommendations, information on the NSW influenza vaccine program for children under 5 years, and how to order free vaccine.
Annual influenza vaccination is provided free for all NSW Health workers. While highly recommended for all health care workers, under the policy directive Occupational assessment, screening and vaccination against specified infectious diseases (PD2020_017) it is mandatory for those in Category A High Risk positions.
Category A High Risk positions are positions categorised as Category A risk where the worker also works in one or more of the following five high risk clinical areas:
Workers employed in Category A - High Risk positions that are unable to receive influenza vaccine due to a medical contraindication must provide evidence from their doctor or treating specialist. During the influenza season these workers must wear a surgical/procedural mask while providing patient care in high risk clinical areas or be deployed to a non-high risk clinical area.
Workers employed in Category A - High Risk positions who refuse annual influenza vaccination (other than those with a recognised medical contraindication to influenza vaccine) must, during the influenza season, wear a surgical/procedural mask while providing patient care in high risk clinical areas or be deployed to a non-high risk clinical area.
Category A High Risk workers must be vaccinated prior to 1 June each year.
For further information see:
See the Influenza and pregnancy - guidance for clinicians fact sheet for specific guidance for health professionals and health facilities on managing pregnant women presenting with suspected or confirmed influenza infections, including considerations in the management of influenza in each trimester, around the time of birth and in the post-natal period.
See the NSW Health Maternal influenza vaccination - evidence review for further information on the safety and efficacy of influenza vaccination during pregnancy, and the research supporting the role influenza vaccination during pregnancy has to protect pregnant women from influenza and its complications in pregnancy, and to protect newborns against influenza during the critical early months of life.
Influenza vaccination during pregnancy should be routine - safety is well established and both maternal and infant benefit is proven.
See Influenza information for antenatal care providers for updated information on the key messages and measures for flu and pregnancy, links to influenza vaccination advice from RANZCOG and from the Australian Immunisation Handbook (NHMRC), and for links to flu and pregnancy resources for antenatal care providers.
Please contact your local public health unit on 1300 066 055 to report suspected outbreaks of influenza in high-risk settings such as residential aged care facilities, special schools and boarding schools.