Free flu shots for NSW residents will be extended until 17 July amid concerns vaccination rates are still not where they should be.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the latest data shows only one in four children aged under five has had a flu shot, while the figures are even lower for kids aged five to 15.
“It’s really worrying that just over 18 per cent of children and teenagers have had a flu jab and for kids aged six months to five years, the figure is 25 per cent,” Mr Hazzard said.
“These numbers are particularly concerning given in the last month, four times as many kids have been admitted to Sydney’s two children’s hospitals with flu than with COVID.”
Mr Hazzard urged families to use the school holidays to book in for a free flu shot.
“It only takes a few minutes to get a flu jab but that time could mean the difference between you or one of your loved ones ending up in ICU so please, book in today,” Mr Hazzard said.
The uptake of the influenza vaccine in adults is equally worrying, with less than 40 per cent of 50 to 65 year olds and only 64 per cent of those aged over 65 having a flu jab.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant urged more people to come forward for their influenza vaccination to prevent unnecessary hospitalisations.
“More than 1,000 people presented to our EDs with flu-like illness last week and almost 165 were so unwell they were admitted, including very young children,” Dr Chant said.
“Please take advantage of the offer of the free vaccination to protect yourself against the flu this winter. There is plenty of supply and appointments available at GPs and pharmacies.”
The low uptake in Sydney’s west and south-west continues to be of concern, so too in parts of far northern NSW and the State’s central west.
For flu vaccine uptake figures by age group and local government area, visit Influenza vaccination rates in NSW.