Winter is here and the Western NSW Local Health District is urging people to be mindful of how best to be winter wise and remain healthy throughout the cold and flu season this year.
Director Population Health Dr Therese Jones said winter is a peak time for illness, but there are many things people can do to prevent getting sick, including getting the flu shot.
“Prevention is always better than cure and we strongly recommend people get the flu vaccination to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill,” Dr Jones said.
“The flu shot is still one of the best steps towards reducing your risk and it’s really important that people understand the flu vaccination does not cause the flu. This is a myth and it should not discourage people from getting the flu shot.”
The flu vaccine is free for people over 65 years of age, pregnant women, Aboriginal people aged 15 years or over, Aboriginal children aged 6 months to five years and people with underlying medical conditions predisposing them to severe influenza.
“People should remember to cover your mouth with a tissue when coughing and sneezing, dispose of tissues into a bin straight away, and always wash your hands,” Dr Jones said.
Dr Jones said if people are unwell they should stay home from work, day care or school and avoid visiting family and friends, especially those that have chronic health conditions or are in hospitals or nursing homes.
“It’s important to minimise the risk of spreading disease to our family, friends and colleagues by avoiding contact whenever we can,” Dr Jones said.
“People will also recover more quickly by getting the rest they need when sick.”
The Health District would also like to take this opportunity to remind people that their local GP is the best point of call if they have flu symptoms, not the local hospital Emergency Department.
“We encourage people to avoid placing additional pressure on Emergency Departments which are for emergency medical conditions, not for cold symptoms,” Dr Jones said.
More information about influenza is available at http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/Influenza/Pages/default.aspx
Media enquiries:Brendan Williams, Media Manager, Western NSW Local Health District via firstname.lastname@example.org