Thursday, December 7, 2023

New Premier urges free flu shots

Priority groups are being encouraged to book in now for their free influenza vaccine, ahead of this year’s flu season.

NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant said that while it was difficult to predict the full impact of the flu season ahead, vaccination was the best way to ensure you are protected.

“If you are aged 65 and over, or at higher risk of severe illness, we also recommend you receive a 2023 COVID-19 vaccine booster, as both flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time,” Dr Chant said.

While everyone aged 6 months and over is urged to get their influenza vaccine as soon as possible, it is particularly important for those at higher risk of severe illness from the virus, said NSW Premier, Chris Minns.

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

Premier Minns (pictured at Liverpool Hospital in Sydney) said vaccination was the best way to protect yourself from the harmful effects of flu.

“Influenza is highly contagious and can be deadly for some people, so if you are in one of these priority groups, please take advantage of the free flu vaccine as soon as possible,” Mr Minns said.

NSW Health Minister, Ryan Park said influenza vaccines are available through GPs for any age group, as well as through pharmacies for everyone aged five years and over.

“When people book, they should ask their pharmacist or GP if they are eligible for a free flu vaccine. There is plenty of stock available throughout the state, so now is the time to book your shot,” Mr Park said.

We can all take steps to help protect ourselves and our loved ones from COVID-19 and flu, including:

  • Stay up to date with your recommended flu and COVID-19 vaccinations
  • Stay home if you have cold or flu symptoms and get tested
  • Wear a mask in crowded, indoor places
  • Get together outdoors or in large, well-ventilated spaces with open doors and windows
  • Wash or sanitise your hands often
  • Talk with your doctor now if you are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or flu 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 flu.
  • Take a rapid antigen test to test for COVID-19 before visiting vulnerable loved ones.

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