Now that winter is upon us we can expect influenza and other respiratory illnesses to increase across the region, so protecting yourself and your family over winter is very important.

Paul Corben, Director of Public Health for the Mid North Coast and Northern NSW Local Health Districts is urging the public, especially pregnant women, elderly people and those with chronic medical conditions to get vaccinated against the flu and to take other steps to avoid becoming ill during the winter months.

“Free flu vaccine is available to people who are more vulnerable to severe influenza, including those aged 65 years and older, pregnant women, people with chronic illness and Aboriginal people.

“Influenza vaccination during pregnancy should be considered routine as it protects both the mother and the infant.

Mr Corben said parents of children older than six months and who are at higher risk of severe influenza should also talk to their local GP to arrange a flu vaccination.

“Vaccination not only protects you against the flu or developing potentially serious illness, but also protects those around you,” Mr Corben said.

July to September are historically busy months for influenza and local hospitals expect respiratory related presentations and admissions to increase over this period.

“There are many bacteria and viruses that can cause respiratory illness circulating in our community and vaccination, hand hygiene and cough etiquette remain the best defences against these germs,” Mr Corben said.

Other simple steps to help stay healthy this winter include:

  • Cover your face with a tissue when you cough or sneeze;
  • Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands thoroughly;
  • Stay home if you have the flu to avoid infecting others; and
  • If you think you may have influenza and you need to see a doctor call first so the clinic can take precautions to reduce the risk to other people.

Parents and families are also reminded that health advice and information is available via the free Health Direct Australia service, staffed by registered nurses 24-hours a day on:

1800 022 222.

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