THERE has been no repeat of last year’s deadly flu season across the region with a dramatic reduction in the number of reported flu cases.
In July last year 282 flu cases were reported across the Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD), but this July the number has dropped significantly to just 26 cases.
Flu cases in Lithgow also dropped during the same time period, from 15 to just one.
While in Murrumbidgee Local Health District, which includes Young and Boorowa, no cases of the flu were recorded in July of 2017 or 2018.
WNSWLHD health protection manager Priscilla Stanley said that in 2017 Australia experienced its most severe flu season in almost a decade and it mirrored a global trend.
“More than 250,000 Australians testing positive for influenza and hospitalisations doubled,” she said.
“In 2017 at least 654 people died from influenza Across NSW, there have been 12 deaths notified so far this year related to influenza.”
In 2017 at least 654 people died from influenza Across NSW, there have been 12 deaths notified so far this year related to influenza.Western NSW Local Health District health protection manager Priscilla Stanley
Ms Stanley said while influenza case numbers had dropped this year, she encouraged people to have a flu vaccination if they had not already.
“It is not too late to vaccinate. Anyone who is yet to have the flu vaccine should call ahead to their GP or pharmacist to ensure they have the appropriate vaccine for your age in stock,” she said.
Ms Stanley said NSW Government had spent a record $22.75 million on state-wide immunisation programs to assist with flu prevention.
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.
“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,” Ms Stanley said.
NSW Health has distributed 2.3 million doses of government funded flu vaccine to hospitals, GPs and other immunisation clinics since April this year, over 50 per cent more than was distributed in the entire year in 2017.
Ms Stanley said local health districts across NSW prepared for this year’s flu season, with winter plans in place for hospitals, including procedures for allocating additional resources during periods of high demand, and promoting good hygiene practices among staff and visitors.
“Around 145,000 doses of influenza vaccine have been provided for health district staff, around 30 per cent more than in 2017,” she said.
Tips for staying healthy during flu season
Help to prevent the spread of flu by:
- Cough and sneeze into your elbow
- Wash your hands regularly
- Stay home if you’re sick