Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) is urging people to remember simple hygiene precautions to avoid spreading the flu, as the area continues to see high rates of infection.
WNSWLHD Public Health Manager, Priscilla Stanley said, there have been 1,521 cases of influenza in the district so far this year, compared with 85 cases during the same period in 2018.
“We are seeing higher than usual influenza activity across the district, which is in line with activity across Australia,” said Ms Stanley.
“The higher than usual numbers of influenza notifications is being driven by an early start to the influenza season and increased testing, which means that more cases are detected and reported.
“We are encouraging people to cover their coughs and sneezes, wash their hands thoroughly and stay home if they are unwell. Vaccination is still your best protection and it is not too late to have a flu shot.”
Ms Stanley said Emergency Departments are continuing to report higher than usual numbers of presentations for respiratory illnesses and influenza-like illness.
The five local government areas across the WNSWLHD with the most cases of influenza year to date include Bathurst with 400, Orange with 300, Dubbo with 214, Mid-Western Region with 122 and Blayney with 82 cases.
“While we are seeing overall flu numbers decrease across the state, across the WNSWLHD the flu is still about so people need to remain vigilant,” said Ms Stanley.
Ms Stanley said 2.47 million doses of Government-funded flu vaccines have been distributed across NSW, including over 199,000 doses for children six months to three years, and 1.18 million doses for people 65 years and over. A free vaccine is still available for eligible people who have not yet had their shot.
Flu shots are 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.
The NSW Government continues a strong investment on statewide immunisation programs including $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 will invest about $130 million in the 2019-20 Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines.