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Daniel and Miller give their vaccination the thumbs up

It's thumbs up all round at the free influenza vaccination day at Penrith Panthers

Simple advice to beat the flu this year

18 May 2018


Taking simple actions now and everyday will help you fend off the flu and other highly contagious infections, like the common cold, this winter says Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District Director of Public Health, Associate Professor Bradley Forssman.

“Getting a flu shot is one of the most effective ways you can stop yourself from catching influenza,” says Dr Forssman.

“Each year the vaccine is updated to include new strains that might be circulating this winter. So, it’s important to always get an influenza vaccination every year.”

The flu shot is available from your GP, some local pharmacies and also many large businesses offer their staff free yearly flu vaccinations.

Some people in the community may also be eligible for a free a flu shot:

  • those aged 65 years or older
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months to less than 5 years or 15 years or older
  • pregnant women
  • people aged six months and over with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease or impaired immunity.

The flu vaccine is being provided free for a limited time in communities across the state as part of NSW Health’s $1.75 million immunisation campaign following one of the worst flu seasons on record last year, which caused over 650 flu-related deaths.

Free flu vaccinations were provided on Friday 18 May at Penrith Panthers as part of Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District’s campaign to encourage the community to get vaccinated this winter. 

Stuart Ayres at the flu vaccination event
Member for Penrith Stuart Ayres with NBMLHD Public Health staff and Penny the Panthers Mascot doing their part to promote the benefits of good hand hygiene

Dr Forssman says often people think they may have the flu but they’ve actually caught one of the many other respiratory infections that make you cough, sneeze, ache or generally feel unwell.

“One of the easiest and cheapest ways to avoid catching the flu or a cold is to clean your hands regularly.

“Cold and flu viruses can be carried in tiny droplets when infected people cough or sneeze. The viruses can survive for hours on surfaces like door handles, hand railings, tables or keyboards,” says Dr Forssman.

“Touching the surface spreads the viruses to your hands and then it’s easy to infect yourself by rubbing your eyes, mouth and nose or touching your food.

“Regularly washing your hands with soap and water or using antimicrobial hand rubs removes or kills the germs.”

To help stop the spread of the viruses Dr Forssman suggests sneezing and coughing into your elbow or using a disposable tissue.

“If you are sick this winter, and statistics show that on average we have 2 or more ‘colds’ a year, don’t go into work and avoid seeing friends and relatives who may be especially vulnerable to infections.

This includes hospital patients, elderly grandparents, very young children and those with compromised immune systems.”

NBMLHD will be implementing its winter plans for local hospitals, which include procedures for allocating additional resources during periods of high demand, providing free flu vaccinations for all staff and promoting good hygiene practices that help fight the spread of flu.

The NSW Government will spend a record $22.75 million on state-wide immunisation programs in 2017-18, including $3.5 million for free flu shots to children up to five years of age to boost protection against flu in our communities. 

Learn more about influenza