Vaccination in May is the best protection against influenza
Sydneysiders are being encouraged to get the flu vaccine to protect themselves and their families against influenza.
“With more than 9,600 confirmed influenza cases in NSW already this year, people should call ahead to their GP or pharmacist to get their flu jabs,” Leena Gupta, Clinical Director of Public Health at Sydney Local Health District, said.
One million flu vaccines have already been delivered in NSW this year.
The flu shot is free for pregnant women, Aboriginal people, those aged over 65, and anyone with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.
Hospitalisation rates for influenza are highest in young children with recent national figures showing about 100 in 100,000 children aged six to 23 months have needed hospital care.
Dr Gupta said it was important all members of the community over 6 months of age are immunised, not just those at high risk.
“While we might all take flu for granted as a common winter disease, it can be deadly,” she said.
“Last year we had a relatively milder flu season, but the 2017 season was severe and we want to avoid a repeat of that by making sure that as many people as possible have their flu shot.
“It’s important not to be complacent.”
Immunisation Coalition Chairman Professor Robert Booy said 2019 may be shaping up to be a particularly bad year because immunity to the flu among Australians is low after a mild season in 2018.
Further, this year we are seeing the presence of two types of flu, rather than the usual one, he said.
Professor Booy recommended getting vaccinated now for the best chance of avoiding flu altogether.
“If you get vaccinated in the month of May, you can deal with the flu that’s already around [and] it will protect you for about four months to cover the winter flu season,” he said.
Sydney Local Health District is offering free flu vaccinations to all staff. Chief Executive, Dr Teresa Anderson AM booked in early to have her injection.
“Annual flu vaccination remains the best protection against catching influenza,” she said.
“I strongly encourage you to get your flu shot to protect yourself and the community this winter.”
For more about the influenza vaccine see www.health.nsw.gov.au/flu