21 June 2019
Flu cases continue to rise across the board, prompting NSW to once again urge parents to take advantage of free influenza vaccine for under-fives.

NSW Health Director of Communicable Disease, Dr Vicky Sheppeard, says 115 children have been admitted to Children’s Hospital Westmead with flu this year, including two needing critical care, and encouraged parents to vaccinate their children as soon as possible.

“With flu cases still on the rise, we’re encouraging everyone, particularly pregnant women and parents of young children, to get their flu shots immediately,” Dr Sheppeard said.

The latest weekly Influenza Surveillance Report shows 3796 flu cases for the week ending 16 June, up from 3288 notifications the previous week and one additional death of a person over 65 years, bringing the annual total to 50 confirmed deaths.

Dr Sheppeard said 2.37 million doses of Government-funded flu vaccines have been distributed across NSW, including over 176,000 doses for children 6 months to 3 years, and 1.17 million doses for people 65 years and over.

“There has been strong demand, but there are sufficient supplies of free Government-funded vaccines available for eligible people.

“So we are again encouraging parents and carers of children from 6 months up to five years old to take advantage of the free flu vaccine.

“If you are unwell with the flu, stay at home and minimise contact with other people if possible, especially those who are particularly vulnerable, such as young children and the elderly. Avoid visiting aged care facilities and child care centres until you have recovered,” Dr Sheppeard said.

The NSW Government is spending a record $22.75 million on statewide immunisation programs which will assist with flu prevention this season. This includes $2.6 million for free flu shots to children up to five years of age and a $1.5 million immunisation and influenza awareness campaign.

The NSW Government has invested about $130 million in the 2018-19 Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines.

Flu shots are also free under the National Immunisation Program for pregnant women, people over 65 years of age, Aboriginal people and those with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart problems.