Community News

Take steps to avoid winter respiratory illnesses and influenza

Winter has arrived and the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) is starting to see presentations of respiratory illnesses and influenza during the past few weeks.
The Director of the North Coast Public Health Unit Paul Corben said the level of presentations so far this month was at the expected level, with no major increase on this period last year.
“The peak flu season on the North Coast varies between July to August, so now is the time to vaccinate against the impending flu season,” Mr Corben said.
“Vaccination remains the best way to prevent influenza and it is never too late to vaccinate.
“Influenza vaccination provides protection for about a year. People who had the seasonal influenza vaccine anytime in 2015 still need to be vaccinated in 2016 to maintain immunity against influenza.”
Free flu vaccine is available to people considered more vulnerable to severe influenza, including those aged 65 years and older, pregnant women, people with chronic illness as well as Aboriginal people.
Parents of children older than six months of age – who are at higher risk of severe influenza – should talk to their local GP to arrange a flu vaccination. Influenza vaccination during pregnancy should be considered routine as it protects both the mother and the infant.
Taking preventive measures with personal hygiene, such as covering your mouth when coughing and washing your hands regularly, will also help reduce the risk of contracting the flu virus.
Simple steps to help stay healthy this winter include:
• Cover your face with a tissue when you cough or sneeze;
• Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands thoroughly;
• Stay home if you have the flu to avoid infecting others; and
• If you think you may have influenza and you need to see a doctor call first so the clinic can take precautions to reduce the risk to other people.
NSW Health reminds parents and families that health advice and information is available via the free Health Direct Australia service, staffed by registered nurses 24-hours a day on 1800 022 222.