THERE’S still time to get a flu shot say health experts as flu cases rise throughout NSW.
The state’s latest Influenza Surveillance Weekly Report showed 365 confirmed flu cases for the week ending July 29, higher than the 246 cases in the previous week but still much lower than the 4,690 notifications in the same week in 2017.
Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director Communicable Diseases NSW Health urged those who were not vaccinated to get a flu shot “before the flu season officially starts”.
“It’s not too late to vaccinate and we’re encouraging everyone, particularly pregnant women and the parents of young children, to arrange the flu shot before we hit the flu season,” Dr Sheppeard said.
“Vaccination is the best protection against flu but you can help prevent it spreading by coughing and sneezing into your elbow, cleaning your hands and staying home when sick.”
The NSW Government is spending a record $22.75 million on state-wide immunisation programs including $3.5 million for free flu shots to children up to five years of age and a $1.75 million immunisation and influenza prevention campaign.
Local Health Districts across NSW have prepared for this year’s flu season, with winter plans in place for hospitals, including procedures for allocating additional resources during periods of high demand.
Flu shots are also free under, the National Immunisation Program, for pregnant women, people over 65 years of age, Aboriginal people and those with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart problems.
In Victoria the state government has announced an extra 120,000 doses of the adult vaccine have been made available throughout the state.
"It's never too late to get a flu shot, and with influenza activity just now on the rise, getting a shot now will provide full season protection right through winter and beyond the expected peak in late September,” said Chief Health Officer Charles Guest.
"When more people are vaccinated, fewer people become ill or suffer life-threatening complications from influenza. That's why it's vital to get your flu shot," Prof Guest said.
Victoria has distributed 1,731,184 influenza vaccines – 448,000 more doses than 2017.
"As we are still in the depths of winter it is important to remember most people can infect others up to seven days after becoming sick, so the best way to avoid spreading the flu is to stay at home while you are unwell," Prof Guest said.
"In particular, avoid going to work or school or visiting busy public places. Avoid sharing linens, eating utensils and dishes. Observe good cough etiquette at all times. This includes coughing into a tissue and disposing of it immediately, or coughing into your sleeve.
"Good hand hygiene is also important. Wash your hands regularly using soap and water, particularly if you cough into your hands," Prof Guest said.