Free flu vaccinations will be available from GPs and pharmacies in June.
A sharp increase in flu cases has seen the NSW Government fund free flu vaccinations until June 30. Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said there were 1,140 cases of respiratory illness notified this week, compared with 766 in the previous week and 150 presentations and admissions to hospitals.
“We strongly urge everyone over six months of age to get a flu shot as soon as possible to protect themselves and their loved ones, as the virus is easily spread and potentially deadly.
“This is particularly important for those in high-risk groups, such as the elderly and children aged six months to five years. If you live in an aged or disability care facility, are aged over 65 or are immunocompromised, now is the time to book in,” said Dr Chant.
Although some people in vulnerable populations are already eligible for free influenza vaccination through a Commonwealth Government program via GPs, the NSW Government is also extending a free flu vaccination program to community pharmacies for everyone.
NSW Health is also permitting pharmacies to administer flu vaccines to children aged five years old, reduced from 10 years, making it easier for families to be vaccinated together. GPs will be reimbursed for any flu stock they have already purchased that is used in the month of June for this vaccination program.
People are also being encouraged to get a COVID-19 booster at the same time as a flu-jab, if they have not already done so.
“We also recommend a COVID-19 winter booster if you are eligible, as both flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time,” explained Dr Chant.
COVID-19 restrictions had the effect of also reducing the incidence of influenza but with the reopening of borders and international travel, the flu is making a comeback. The measure to provide free flu vaccinations for everyone is designed to minimise the number of flu related deaths in vulnerable people.
A free flu vaccination is available to all NSW residents from Wednesday, 01 June until Thursday, 30 June 2022.
More information about influenza is available at NSW Health, nsw.gov.au/flu.