Spring has sprung but the flu season holds steady

Spring may havearrived but health experts have issued a timely reminder that this does notsignal the end of this year’s flu season.

The latest Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report indicates there were 719 notificationsof influenza for the week ending 26 August, up from the 639 notifications inthe previous week. But case numbers are still well down on the 10,907notifications recorded for the same period last year.

Vicky Sheppeard,Director of Communicable Diseases, said despite temperatures warming up, thereis no room for complacency in getting vaccinated against influenza.

“Influenza notification rates havebeen steady across most of the state but flu activity was relatively high inthe Hunter New England Local Health District (LHD) with 130 cases recorded thisweek,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“Flu rates havealso been high in the Nepean Blue Mountains, and in South Eastern and WesternSydney.

“The flu season got off to a much laterstart this year than last year, only officially kicking off in the first weekof August. So it’s important for the community to remember they still need toprotect themselves against contracting it.”

The NSWGovernment is spending a record $22.75 million on state-wide immunisationprograms which will assist with flu prevention this season. This includes $3.5million for free flu shots to children up to five years of age and a $1.75million immunisation and influenza prevention campaign.

Flu shots arealso free under the National Immunisation Program for pregnant women, peopleover 65 years of age, Aboriginal people and those with medical conditions suchas asthma, diabetes and heart problems.

NSW Health hasdistributed over 2.3 million doses of government-funded flu vaccine tohospitals, GPs and other immunisation clinics since April this year, 50 percent more than was distributed in the entire year in 2017.

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