NSW Health is urging families to remember its simple hygiene precautions while enjoying the school holidays and get a flu jab to prevent the virus hitching a ride home.
NSW Health’s Director of Communicable Disease, Dr Vicky Sheppeard says minimising the spread of flu only requires a few simple steps from everyone.
“Sneeze into your elbow, wash your hands thoroughly, stay at home if sick, and remember it’s never too late in to get a flu shot,” Dr Sheppeard said.
“The actions are easy to do but not always easily remembered so again, we urge everyone to be conscious that the flu is still about in this holiday period so take care.”
Along with most other parts of Australia, NSW is feeling the effects of an early start to the flu season.
The latest weekly Influenza Surveillance Report shows 6234 flu cases for the week ending 7 July, up from 5590 notifications the previous week and four additional deaths, bringing the annual total to 70 confirmed deaths.
Dr Sheppeard said 2.4 million doses of Government-funded flu vaccines have been distributed across NSW, including over 190,000 doses for children 6 months to 3 years, and 1.18 million doses for people 65 years and over.
Basic hygiene is particularly important if you are visiting elderly relatives at aged-care facilities, with the best option being to avoid visiting if you’re sick. In the year to date there have been 126 confirmed influenza outbreaks in aged care facilities, 14 of which were reported this week.
Flu shots are 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.
“There has been strong demand, but there are sufficient supplies of free Governmentfunded vaccines available for eligible people. So during the school holidays we are again encouraging parents and carers of children from 6 months up to five years old to take advantage of the free flu vaccine.”
The NSW Government continues a strong investment on statewide immunisation programs including $2.6 million for free flu shots to children up to five years of age and a $1.5 million immunisation and influenza awareness campaign.
The NSW Government will invest about $130 million in the 2019-20 Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines.