Flu jab crucial as winter sets in

Flu cases continue to rise across the board, prompting NSW to once againurge parents to take advantage of free influenza vaccine for under-fives.

NSW Health Director of Communicable Disease, Dr Vicky Sheppeard, says 115children have been admitted to Children’s Hospital Westmead with flu this year,including two needing critical care, and encouraged parents to vaccinate theirchildren as soon as possible.

“With flu cases still on the rise, we’re encouraging everyone, particularly pregnant women and parents ofyoung children, to get their flu shots immediately,” Dr Sheppeard said.

The latest weekly InfluenzaSurveillance Report shows 3796 flucases for the week ending 16 June, up from 3288 notifications the previous weekand one additional death of a person over 65 years, bringing the annual totalto 50 confirmed deaths.

Dr Sheppeard said 2.37 million doses of Government-funded flu vaccineshave been distributed across NSW, including over 176,000 doses for children 6months to 3 years, and 1.17 million doses for people 65 years and over.

“There has been strong demand, but there are sufficient supplies of freeGovernment-funded vaccines available for eligible people.

“So we are again encouraging parents and carers of children from 6 monthsup to five years old to take advantage of the free flu vaccine.

“If you are unwell with the flu, stay at home and minimise contact withother people if possible, especially those who are particularly vulnerable,such as young children and the elderly. Avoid visiting aged care facilities andchild care centres until you have recovered,” Dr Sheppeard said.

The NSW Government is spending arecord $22.75 million on statewide immunisation programs which will assist withflu prevention this season. This includes $2.6 million for free flu shots tochildren up to five years of age and a $1.5 million immunisation and influenzaawareness campaign.

The NSW Government has invested about $130 million in the 2018-19Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines.

Flu shots are also free under the National Immunisation Program forpregnant women, people over 65 years of age, Aboriginal people and those withmedical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart problems.

/Public Release. View in full here.