23 June 2023

NSW Health is urging people aged 65 and over to book in for their free influenza (flu) vaccine through their GP or local pharmacy, amid concerns of moderate levels of influenza transmission in the community.

More than 9,000 people in NSW were diagnosed with influenza during the past fortnight, 4 June to 17 June, with the latest data showing an increase in the number of people who presented to NSW emergency departments in June with influenza-like illness.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said while everyone aged six months or older is recommended to get their flu vaccine as soon as possible, it is particularly important that priority groups - including people aged 65 and over - ensure they are vaccinated against influenza this winter.

"We're currently seeing an increase in the number of people presenting to NSW emergency departments with influenza-like illness, with some requiring admission to hospital," Dr Chant said.

"Older people are at higher risk of suffering severe illness from influenza, so I would remind people of the importance of getting vaccinated this winter because doing so will reduce your likelihood of catching influenza, but will also lower your chances of needing to be hospitalised if you do get it."

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

  • People aged 65 and over
  • Children aged six months to under five years
  • Aboriginal people from six months of age
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with serious health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, obesity, severe asthma, kidney, heart, lung or liver disease.

We can all take steps to help protect ourselves and our loved ones from COVID-19 and influenza, including:

  • Stay up to date with your recommended flu and COVID-19 vaccinations
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Wear a mask in crowded, indoor places
  • Get together outdoors or in large, well-ventilated spaces with open doors and windows
  • Wash or sanitise your hands often
  • Talk with your doctor now if you are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or influenza to make a plan about what to do if you get sick, including what test to take, and discussing if you are eligible for antiviral medicines
  • Don't visit people who are at higher risk of severe illness if you are sick or have tested positive to COVID-19 or influenza
  • Take a rapid antigen test to test for COVID-19 especially before visiting vulnerable loved ones.

More information on influenza can be found on NSW Government - Influenza.