This week is World Immunisation Week and with winter fast approaching, it is a timely reminder to us all to get vaccinated against the flu before it’s too late.
Last week we launched our Winter is Coming! video campaign through social media and cinemas to encourage people to get vaccinated. Vaccination is the single most effective way of preventing the spread of flu in our community and getting vaccinated now will protect you before the peak flu period, which is usually around June to September.
Last winter over 90,000 people in NSW were struck down by flu making it the worst flu season since the 2009 pandemic. Most cases occurred in Sydney with over 42,500 people affected last year. The worst hit areas were Western Sydney, Nepean-Blue Mountains and South West Sydney regions, where more than a third of the state's flu-ridden people were treated.
Last year’s horror flu season created a significant burden on our healthcare system, with more than twice the number of people with flu being admitted to hospital than is typical.
Children, the elderly and people with some pre-existing medical conditions, are more vulnerable to serious complications from the flu. Children can receive the flu vaccine from the age of six months, and this year, two new vaccines have been developed to provide better protection for people aged 65 years and over.
Free flu vaccines are available to eligible people from mid-April under the National Immunisation Program. Flu vaccines are available from GPs, community health clinics, Aboriginal Medical Service, and other vaccination providers in the area.
To protect yourself and your family, you should get vaccinated every year. The flu virus is always changing so the flu vaccine changes every year too.
I encourage everyone to have a conversation with their GP about vaccination, before winter arrives.
The following groups are eligible for a free flu vaccine under the National Immunisation Program:
- all pregnant women
- all children aged six months to less than 5 years
- all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over
- people aged 6 months and over with medical conditions predisposing to severe influenza
- all people aged 65 years and over
Individuals can use their My Health Record to keep track of their own, and their children’s, immunisation history.
More about My Health Record
More about Immunisation