30 April 2024

Time to roll up your sleeves for flu vaccine as cases start to climb

Join the conversation
Woman lying on lounge with flu

A flu vaccine can help avoid getting sick this winter. Photo: File.

May is traditionally the official start of the flu season and health authorities are urging Illawarra residents to book in for their influenza vaccine.

Vaccines are now available before the peak flu season, which is generally from June to September.

NSW Health Minister and Keira MP Ryan Park said influenza cases had already started to increase in some parts of Australia.

“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,” Mr Park said.

“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.”

READ ALSO Illawarra authors prescribe a dose of creative first aid to improve mental health

The latest respiratory surveillance report shows more than 4700 people in NSW were diagnosed with influenza in the previous four weeks, a 16 per cent increase compared with last year.

NSW hospitals received 480 influenza-like illness admissions between January and April this year, compared with 284 during the same period in 2023.

NSW Health says influenza is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses and is more serious than the common cold.

Symptoms of the flu may last for more than a week and can include fever and chills, a cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, joint pains, headaches, fatigue and nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea (more common in children than adults).

Most people with the flu recover after a few days, but for some people it can lead to a severe and life-threatening illness.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said last year there was an increase in emergency department 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 five years in for their free flu vaccine now,” Dr Chant said.

READ ALSO Flagstaff Group CEO stepping beyond Vinnies CEO Sleepout by running 1000 km

“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.”

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

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

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

For more information on influenza, click here, or to learn more about COVID-19 booster vaccines, click here.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Daily Digest

Want the best Illawarra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Illawarra stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.