01 September 2018

Spring may have arrived but health experts have issued a timely reminder that this does not signal the end of this year’s flu season.

The latest Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report indicates there were 719 notifications of influenza for the week ending 26 August, up from the 639 notifications in the previous week. But case numbers are still well down on the 10,907 notifications recorded for the same period last year.

Vicky Sheppeard, Director of Communicable Diseases, said despite temperatures warming up, there is no room for complacency in getting vaccinated against influenza.

“Influenza notification rates have been steady across most of the state but flu activity was relatively high in the Hunter New England Local Health District (LHD) with 130 cases recorded this week,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“Flu rates have also been high in the Nepean Blue Mountains, and in South Eastern and Western Sydney.

“The flu season got off to a much later start this year than last year, only officially kicking off in the first week of August. So it’s important for the community to remember they still need to protect themselves against contracting it.”

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.

Flu shots are also free under the National Immunisation Program for pregnant women, people over 65 years of age, Aboriginal people and those with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart problems.

NSW Health has distributed over 2.3 million doses of government-funded flu vaccine to hospitals, GPs and other immunisation clinics since April this year, 50 per cent more than was distributed in the entire year in 2017.