12 May 2022

NSW residents are being urged to book in for their flu vaccine, with the number of infections increasing significantly in recent weeks.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said cases are rising quickly throughout the community, with several recent outbreaks also affecting boarding schools.

“There were 2,000 new flu cases notified in NSW in the week ending 7 May 2022, compared with 1,024 cases in the previous week, as well as around 60 emergency department presentations for flu-like illness that required an admission to hospital,” Dr Chant said.

“We are also seeing an increase in the proportion of people testing positive. Of 25,556 tests conducted for influenza in the week ending 7 May 2022, 9.1 per cent were positive, compared with 5.3 per cent in the previous week.”

NSW Health is aware of recent flu outbreaks in four boarding schools and Dr Chant said it is important that students and staff get their flu shot.

“As with COVID-19, boarding schools are a high-risk setting for flu transmission. We’re strongly encouraging all students and staff in boarding schools to get their flu vaccine,” Dr Chant said.

“Boarders with flu should be isolated from others until their symptoms resolve. If a school has three or more boarders with flu, they are urged to contact the local Public Health Unit for advice.”

Further advice for schools this winter is available at Winter flu season - key points for schools.

Vaccination affords essential protection for people of all ages against severe illness from influenza, but it is particularly important for those more vulnerable.

Everyone six months and older is recommended to get a flu shot. The rollout of the flu vaccination program is the Commonwealth Government’s responsibility and vaccines are available through GPs, and pharmacies for everyone aged 10 years and over.

Those considered to be at higher risk of severe illness from influenza are eligible for a free flu vaccine. This includes:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from six months of age
  • children from six months to under five years of age
  • people with serious health conditions (including severe asthma, diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, obesity, kidney, heart, lung or liver disease)
  • pregnant women
  • people aged 65 and over.

When people book, they should ask their pharmacist or GP which vaccine is right for them.

NSW Health continues to urge everyone to take simple precautions to protect each other:

  • stay at home if you are sick and avoid close contact with other people to protect yourself and the community from flu and COVID-19
  • wear a mask in indoor spaces if you are unable to physically distance
  • gather in well ventilated spaces or open windows and doors
  • sneeze into your elbow instead of your hands
  • wash your hands thoroughly and often.

The latest information on the flu and COVID-19 is reported in the latest NSW Respiratory Surveillance Report, published today.