Parentsand carers are once again urged to take advantage of plentiful supplies of freeflu vaccines to protect their children, after a rise in the number of influenzacases.
NSWHealth’s Director of Communicable Diseases, Dr Vicky Sheppeard said the latestdata shows 37 people have died since January from flu-related illnesses and thenumber of confirmed cases are also up.
“Thebest weapon against flu is vaccination and right now is the best time to haveit as the flu season is already here,” Dr Sheppeard said.
“Inline with last year’s reports, the latest analysis includes Births, Deaths andMarriages and flu notification data, which demonstrates that there were 37deaths in people with confirmed flu this year, between January and 19 May,which reflects the early unseasonal flu numbers we have seen.”
Deathsin aged-care outbreaks have increased from nine to ten this year to date.
Thereport shows 1320 confirmed flu cases for the week ending 19 May, higher thanthe 979 notifications in the previous week and confirms flu season is here.
“It’simportant to get your flu shots now as it takes about two weeks for the vaccineto provide full protection and children under nine years of age having the shotfor the first time require two doses, one month apart.”
“Childrenare particularly susceptible to flu so parents and carers are being urged totake up the offer of the free flu vaccine for children aged from six months upto five years under the NSW Government’s $2.6 million program”
Flusymptoms include cough, fatigue, muscle aches and high fever.
NSWHealth is encouraging parents to organise their children’s flu shots as soon aspossible, by:
Collaboratingwith childcare centres and schools; Working closely with Local Health Networks;and promoting flu vaccination through targeted radio and digital advertising.
“Thereare ample supplies of influenza vaccine and we urge parents of children under 5years of age and others vulnerable to influenza to visit their GP as soon aspossible,” Dr Sheppeard said.
TheNSW Government is spending a record $22.75 million on statewide immunisationprograms which will assist with flu prevention this season. This includes $2.6million for free flu shots to children up to five years of age and a $1.5million immunisation and influenza awareness campaign.
In2018, the first year of the NSW Government under 5 flu vaccination program, 25%of children from 6 months up to 5 years were recorded on the AustralianImmunisation Register as having received an influenza vaccine.
TheNSW Government has invested approximately $130 million in the 2018-19Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines.
Flushots are also free under the National Immunisation Program, for pregnantwomen, people over 65 years of age, Aboriginal people and those with medicalconditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart problems.
Vaccinationis the best protection against flu, but to help prevent its spread, cough andsneeze into your elbow, clean your hands regularly and stay home when sick.
The latest Influenza SurveillanceReport is available at: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/Influenza/Publications/2019/weekending-19052019.pdf