South Australians encouraged to get flu vaccine this winter

Amidst the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination, South Australians are encouraged not to forget to roll up their sleeve for their annual flu shot.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said that South Australians will need to time their flu vaccination carefully this year so they can safely receive it alongside their COVID-19 vaccination.

“Every year we encourage people to make sure they get the flu vaccination, and this year is no different,” said Minister Wade.

“However, the recommendation is to prioritise your COVID-19 vaccine if you are eligible, before booking in your annual flu vaccine, making sure there is at least 14 days either side of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Stepping up for both vaccinations will ensure both you and the community are protected from both flu and COVID-19.

“The flu season usually starts to peak from June to September, and the flu vaccine itself can take two weeks to provide full protection.”

SA Health’s Chief Public Health Officer, Professor Nicola Spurrier, said from Tuesday 1 June 2021, this years’ flu vaccine would be essential for most South Australians who want to visit or work in a Residential Aged Care Facility.

“It’s important to get a flu shot every year as the circulating virus strains change and this is why we are requiring people with loved ones in residential aged care facilities to get this year’s vaccine,” Professor Spurrier said.

“Getting vaccinated against the flu helps protect vulnerable people who cannot get vaccinated, such as infants and people with weakened immune systems.

“While notified cases of the flu are at record lows this year, it doesn’t mean that there is no flu circulating within the community or that it can’t appear in the community, so now is an ideal time to get vaccinated.”

Through the National Immunisation Program (NIP), free flu vaccines are available for people aged 65 years and over, pregnant women, children aged six months to less than five years of age, all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander over six months, and people with certain medical conditions that predispose them to flu-related complications.

There have been 12 cases of influenza notified this year, compared to 1,531 for the same period in 2020. Overall, 1,583 cases were notified in 2020, and 27,096 cases were notified in 2019.

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