Winter is on us, flu not yet taken hold

With winter upon us, the latest influenza figures show the flu season has not yet taken off. Dr Jeremy McAnulty, Director Health Protection NSW Health, said the Influenza Surveillance Weekly Report shows just 91 confirmed flu cases for the week ending 20 May, compared to 179 this time last year.

“So far there is no indication of an early start to the flu season which is great news but people shouldn’t be complacent as we have seen a rise in some respiratory infections,” Dr McAnulty said.

“We’re encouraging people to maintain healthy hygiene habits – such as coughing and sneezing into your elbow and washing your hands regularly – to help ward off these viruses, including flu.”

Dr McAnulty said NSW Health has distributed around two million doses of influenza vaccines to date, around half a million more than in 2017, despite shortages of some Commonwealth-supplied vaccines.

NSW Health is continuing to work closely with the Australian Department of Health to manage supplies provided under the National Immunisation Program following national vaccine shortages.

“While supply is tight from the Commonwealth and deliveries restricted, we still urge people to call ahead to their GP or pharmacy to check they hold the right vaccine for them and get their jab.”

The NSW Government is spending a record $22.75 million on state-wide immunisation programs in 2017-18. This includes $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.

“We can assure the community the state program of flu vaccines for children aged under five years is continuing and we urge parents to take up the offer of the free vaccine for this age group,” Dr McAnulty said.

NSW Health will continue to closely monitor flu case numbers and will issue an Influenza Surveillance Weekly Report every Friday to keep the community up to date on influenza activity.

The following good hygiene habits help prevent the spread of influenza and other infections:

  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow
  • Clean your hands regularly
  • Stay home when sick.
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