26 July 2019
NSW continues to see high rates of infection and NSW Health is again reminding people to avoid visiting aged-care facilities if they are unwell, to prevent further outbreaks.

NSW Health’s Director of Communicable Disease, Dr Vicky Sheppeard, said while influenza activity is decreasing, the risk to the elderly is still of concern.

“There have been 11 additional deaths reported this week in people aged over 60 years, bringing the annual total to 90 deaths,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“In the year to date, there have been 178 confirmed influenza outbreaks in aged-care facilities, 24 of which were reported this week.

“Elderly people often have complex conditions that are aggravated by influenza, so while we know it is important to visit family and friends in aged-care facilities, if you are sick with the flu we are asking people to stay home until you have recovered.”

The latest weekly Influenza Surveillance Report shows 5400 flu cases for the week ending 21 July, down from 6,779 notifications the previous week, taking the yearly total to 65,913.

“While we are seeing cases decline, the flu is still about so it is important people remember to take steps to minimise its spread,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“People should cover their coughs and sneezes, wash their hands thoroughly and stay home if they are ill. Remember, vaccination is still your best protection and it is not too late to have a flu shot.”

Dr Sheppeard said 2.47 million doses of Government-funded flu vaccines have been distributed across NSW, including over 199,000 doses for children six months to three years, and 1.18 million doses for people 65 years and over. A free vaccine is still available for eligible people who have not yet had their shot.

Flu shots are 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.

The NSW Government continues a strong investment on statewide immunisation programs including $2.6 million for free flu shots to children up to five years of age and a $1.5 million immunisation and influenza awareness campaign. 

The NSW Government will invest about $130 million in the 2019-20 Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines.