28 September 2018

NSW looks set to experience its mildest flu season in five years, with the peak now over.

NSW Health’s Acting Executive Director, Health Protection, Dr Vicky Sheppeard, said respiratory presentations at hospitals are now on the decline.

“The community responded to the call to be vaccinated against influenza, and we have distributed over 50 per cent more government-funded seasonal flu vaccines than ever before in NSW,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“Several factors are likely to have contributed to a mild flu season, including a good match of the vaccine to the main flu strains, predominance of influenza A(H1N1) which spares the elderly, and the after-effects of the severe season in 2017.”

There were 828 flu cases confirmed across the state in the week ending 23 September, well below the 6,201 in the same period last year.

Despite this being a mild flu season it is important to remember that influenza has taken the lives of several NSW residents this year, including at least one child.

“The flu season is not over yet so it’s important to remain cautious and prevent the spread of flu through, coughing and sneezing into your elbow, washing your hands regularly and staying home if you’re unwell,” Dr Sheppeard said.

The NSW Government is spending a record $22.75 million on state-wide immunisation programs. 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.

The flu vaccine is also free under the National Immunisation Program for pregnant women, most Aboriginal people and those who are aged 65 years or more, or have medical conditions such as severe asthma, diabetes and heart problems.

NSW Health has distributed more than 2.3 million doses of government-funded vaccine to GPs and other providers to date this year.

The Influenza Surveillance Weekly Reports can be viewed on the NSW Health website. View the latest Influenza Surveillance Weekly Report.