Mon. May 27th, 2024

Priority groups are being encouraged to get a free flu vaccine and advocates are asking people not to neglect their other vaccinations this World Immunisation Week.

World Immunisation Week runs from April 24 to April 30. Held annually in April each year, the World Health Organisation theme for this year’s event is “the big catch-up”, urging governments and people to catch up on the vaccinations that were missed during the pandemic. WHO is working with partners to support countries to get back on track to ensure more people are protected from preventable diseases. In Australia, most of the focus is getting everyone to get back on track with their flu vaccinations.

While everyone aged 6 months and over is urged to get their influenza vaccine as soon as possible, it is particularly important for those at higher risk of severe illness from the virus.

The influenza vaccine is free for priority groups, including children aged 6 months to under five years, people aged 65 and over, Aboriginal people from 6 months of age, pregnant women and those with serious health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, obesity, severe asthma, kidney, heart, lung or liver disease.

NSW Premier Chris Minns said vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from the harmful effects of flu.

“Influenza is highly contagious and can be deadly for some people, so if you are in one of these priority groups, please take advantage of the free flu vaccine as soon as possible,” Mr Minns said.

NSW Health Minister Ryan Park said influenza vaccines are available through GPs for any age group, as well as through pharmacies for everyone aged five years and over.

“When people book, they should ask their pharmacist or GP if they are eligible for a free flu vaccine. There is plenty of stock available throughout the state, so now is the time to book your shot,” Mr Park said.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said it is difficult to predict the full impact of the flu season ahead, but vaccination is the way to ensure you are protected.

“If you are aged 65 and over, or at higher risk of severe illness, we also recommend you receive a 2023 COVID-19 vaccine booster, as both flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time,” Dr Chant said.

All adults can get a 2023 COVID-19 vaccine booster if it’s been six months or longer since their last COVID-19 booster or confirmed infection (whichever is most recent) for additional protection against severe illness from COVID-19. More advice on COVID-19 booster vaccines can be found here.

The Immunisation Coalition is the leading voice in whole-of-life immunisation in Australia, protecting all Australians against communicable diseases. It is highly respected by healthcare practitioners (HCP’s) and provides evidence-based information to all Australians. This year they are raising awareness of seven prominent vaccine preventable diseases which they say have had a fall in vaccination rates during the Pandemic.

Mr Kim Sampson, CEO of the Immunisation Coalition says, “One of the unforeseen impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic was that many people stopped thinking about other vaccine preventable diseases, and there was a fall in vaccine uptake, posing a potential public health risk.”

“Now that we are heading into the flu season, the Immunisation Coalition urges everyone to make sure they are up to date with all of their vaccinations.” 

There will be major flu vaccination clinics in the major cities today, as part of World Immunisation Action Week, but in the New England most people can get vaccinated just by walking in to your local pharmacy.

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