NSW Health’s Acting
Executive Director, Health Protection, Dr Vicky Sheppeard, said respiratory
presentations at hospitals are now on the decline.
“The community responded
to the call to be vaccinated against influenza, and we have distributed over 50
per cent more government-funded seasonal flu vaccines than ever before in NSW,”
Dr Sheppeard said.
“Several factors are
likely to have contributed to a mild flu season, including a good match of the
vaccine to the main flu strains, predominance of influenza A(H1N1) which spares
the elderly, and the after-effects of the severe season in 2017.”
There were 828 flu cases
confirmed across the state in the week ending 23 September, well below the
6,201 in the same period last year.
Despite this being a
mild flu season it is important to remember that influenza has taken the lives
of several NSW residents this year, including at least one child.
“The flu season is not
over yet so it’s important to remain cautious
and prevent the spread of flu through, coughing and sneezing into your elbow, washing
your hands regularly and staying home if you’re unwell,” Dr Sheppeard said.
The NSW Government is
spending a record $22.75 million on state-wide immunisation programs. 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.
The flu vaccine is also
free under the National Immunisation Program for pregnant women, most Aboriginal
people and those who are aged 65 years or more, or have medical conditions such
as severe asthma, diabetes and heart problems.
NSW Health has
distributed more than 2.3 million doses of government-funded vaccine to GPs and
other providers to date this year.
Surveillance Weekly Reports can be viewed on the NSW Health website.