TO gain maximum advantage local residents are urged to get their flu shots now.
Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) Public Health Director, Curtis Gregory, said if people got their flu shot now they would be right for the start of the traditional flu season.
He said it takes about two weeks for the shot to start working and by getting an inoculation now people would be protected when the season hits.
In June last year demand for flu shots peaked which is why people are urged to get one now - not later.
The good news is plenty of flu shots to go around.
A local resident recently contacted the South Coast Register fearing there was a shortage of flu shots in the area after being told by a clinic that they had not received any shots as yet.
However, there is no shortage and wait could have been due to an unforeseen issue.
"There has been an increase in demand and we are happy that people want to get their flu shots," Mr Gregory said.
"One million flu vaccines have now been delivered across the state."
The NSW Government has invested about $130 million in the 2018-19 Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines.
Free flu vaccines for children aged from six months to under five years of age are being provided under the NSW Government's $2.6 million program.
People, when it comes to the flu, want to know hard nasty the season is going to be?
"It's difficult to tell," Mr Gregeory said.
In 2018 and this year people got a lot of summer flu.
This meant that last year's flu season was not too bad and hopefully 2019 will be similar.
Mr Gregory said the 2019 flu season should not be as bad as the one in 2017.
"While we might all take flu for granted as a common winter disease, it can be deadly," he said.
"In 2017, we had a significant flu season where more than 650 people died across the state.
"We cannot afford to be complacent."
Pregnant women, young children and the elderly will be a major focus of this year's flu campaign.
Free flu vaccines are available for pregnant women, Aboriginal people, those aged over 65, and anyone with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.
How do you tell if it's the cold or flu?
The symptoms of flu can include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue (tiredness).
Cold symptoms are usually milder than the symptoms of flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose
What is influenza?
Influenza, or flu, is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. There are three main types of influenza virus that cause infection in humans - types A, B and C - and many sub-types or strains. Influenza can occur throughout the year but influenza activity usually peaks in winter.
Influenza is a vaccine-preventable illness but a new vaccine needs to be given each year because influenza viruses change (mutate) constantly. A new influenza vaccine is prepared each year to best match the strains predicted for the coming influenza season.
What are the symptoms of flu?
People with influenza typically experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- fever and chills
- cough, sore throat and runny or stuffy nose
- muscle aches, joint pains, headaches and fatigue (feeling very tired)
- nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea (more common in children than adults).
Who is at risk of flu?
While anyone can get influenza, people at higher risk of complications from influenza infection (and who are eligible for free annual flu vaccine) include:
- children aged 6 months to 5 years
- people aged 65 years and older
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
- pregnant women.
Sneeze into your elbow
Sneeze into your elbow instead of your hands, or cover your face with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw used tissues in a rubbish bin.
Clean your hands
Wash your hands thoroughly and often. Wash hands for at least 10 seconds, especially after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose, or use an alcohol-based hand rub.
Stay at home if sick
If you are sick with flu, stay at home and avoid close contact with other people to prevent them from becoming sick. Keep sick children away from school and other activities. Wait at least 24 hours after fever resolves so you that you are unlikely to infect other people.
This is especially important if you visit people who are more likely to get really sick if they get the flu - including pregnant women, infants, older people or people in hospital or residential aged care. Similarly, if you think you may have influenza and you need to see a doctor, call ahead so the clinic can take precautions to reduce the risk to other people.
Source: NSW Health
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