The flu season has officially started in NSW, two months later than in 2017, but the number of confirmed cases reported across the state is still a mere fraction of the total at this time last year.
The latest NSW Health Influenza Surveillance Weekly Report
reveals 426 confirmed flu cases for the week ending 5 August, up on the 365 cases for the previous week but well below the 6,449 notifications in the same week in 2017.
Dr Kerry Chant, NSW Chief Health Officer, has praised the community for being more proactive in getting their flu jabs, following the deaths of more than 650 people in NSW from influenza last year.
“To date NSW Health has distributed more than 2.3 million doses of flu vaccine to GPs and other providers, over 50 per cent more than the total distributed in 2017,” Dr Chant said.
“Around 200,000 of these doses are the special junior vaccine used in children from six months up to three years of age which the State Government is offering for free.”
The NSW Government is spending a record $22.75 million on state-wide immunisation programs which will assist with flu prevention this season. This includes $3.5 million for free flu shots to children up to five years of age and a $1.75 million immunisation and influenza prevention campaign.
Dr Chant encouraged those yet to have their flu shot to have it now.
“It’s not too late to vaccinate and there are no shortages of government supplied vaccines in NSW for all age groups however, we do still urge people to call ahead to their GP or pharmacist.”
Under the National Immunisation Program, the flu shot is free for pregnant women, people over 65 years of age, most Aboriginal people and those with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart problems.
Local Health Districts across NSW have prepared for this year’s flu season, with winter plans in place for our hospitals, including procedures for allocating additional resources during periods of high demand, and promoting good hygiene practices amongst staff and visitors. Around 145,000 doses of influenza vaccine have been provided for health district staff, around 30 per cent more than in 2017.
The Influenza Surveillance Weekly Reports can be viewed on the NSW Health website