NSW latest protect yourself and your community this flu season

People across NSW are being urged to protect themselves against serious illness by booking in for their influenza vaccine ahead of the 2024 flu season.

The latest respiratory surveillance report shows more than 4,700 people in NSW were diagnosed with influenza in the last four weeks, a 16 per cent increase compared with the previous year.

NSW hospitals received 480 influenza-like illness admissions between the 6 January and 14 April 2024. This is compared with 284 during the same period in 2023.

The NSW Government is encouraging people to book in for the influenza vaccine through a local GP or pharmacist ahead of winter.

People who are considered to be at higher risk of severe illness from influenza are eligible for a free flu vaccine. Priority groups include:

  • children aged 6 months to under five years
  • people aged 65 and over
  • Aboriginal people from 6 months of age
  • pregnant women
  • those with serious health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, obesity, severe asthma, kidney, heart, lung or liver disease.

NSW Health also recommends considering getting a COVID-19 booster at the same time as the flu vaccination.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s latest COVID-19 vaccine advice recommends:

  • a COVID-19 vaccination every six months for all adults aged 75 years and over,
  • a COVID-19 vaccination every 12 months for adults aged 65 – 74 years, and adults aged 18 – 64 with severe immunocompromise; these people can consider a vaccination every 6 months,
  • a COVID-19 vaccination every 12 months can be considered for all other adults aged 18 – 64 years, and those aged 5 -18 years with severe immunocompromise.

Some steps to help protect ourselves and our loved ones from COVID-19 and flu include:

  • stay up to date with recommended influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations
  • stay home if you have cold or flu symptoms and wear a mask if you need to leave home
  • gather outdoors or in well-ventilated indoor spaces
  • talk with your doctor now if you are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or influenza to make a plan about what to do if you get sick, including what test to take, and discussing if you are eligible for antiviral medicines
  • don’t visit people who are at higher risk of severe illness if you have cold or flu symptoms or have tested positive to COVID-19 or influenza
  • consider taking a rapid antigen test before visiting vulnerable loved ones, particularly when COVID-19 transmission is moderate or high in the community.

More information on influenza and the COVID-19 booster vaccines can be found on the NSW Government website.

Quotes attributable to Premier Chris Minns:

“Influenza is highly contagious, and it can be life-threatening, especially for vulnerable groups such as young children, pregnant women, older adults and people who have chronic medical conditions.

“Getting the flu jab is the best way to protect yourself and the wider community.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Ryan Park:

“Influenza has started to increase in some parts of Australia, and it’s expected to start to increase across NSW soon, so it is very important you get vaccinated to protect yourself and others as you don’t want to end up in hospital or put vulnerable community members at risk.

“Everyone six months and older is recommended to get a flu vaccine and these are available through GPs for any age group, as well as through pharmacies for everyone aged five years and over.”

Quotes attributable to Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant:

“Last year, we saw an increase in ED presentations among young children with some being admitted to intensive care with life-threatening complications from the flu. We don’t want to see a repeat this year, so we are reminding families to book their children aged under 5 years in for their free flu vaccine now.

“It is a very quick and easy process to book in with your local doctor or pharmacist who can also administer your COVID-19 vaccine at the same time if recommended. This simple act can help you and your family stay healthy this winter.”

/Public Release. View in full here.