26 September 2023

Free flu vaccine to boost the vulnerable

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NSW Health is urging people at higher risks than normal to book in for a free flu shot now that the annual influenza vaccine rollout has commenced.

Executive Director, Health Protection NSW, Dr Richard Broome said with international borders reopening, increased social mixing and lower exposure to influenza over the past two years, people would be more vulnerable to the virus.

“Orders have already been distributed to many aged care facilities, Aboriginal Medical Services and pharmacies, and will continue over the coming weeks,” Dr Broome said.

“Everyone six months and older is recommended to get a flu jab, but particularly those high-risk groups, as the virus is extremely contagious and potentially deadly,” he said.

“If you live in an aged or disability care facility, are aged over 65 or are immunocompromised, now is the time to book in.”

Dr Broome also recommend those eligible get a COVID-19 winter booster, as both flu and COVID-19 vaccines could be given at the same time.

The Executive Director said that, for the first time, free flu vaccines for those aged 65 years and over would also be available from pharmacies.

“When people book, they should ask their pharmacist or GP about the right vaccine for them and, importantly, that the service has it in stock,” he said.

Dr Broome said flu vaccines were free for children aged six months to under five years; Aboriginal people; pregnant women; people aged 65 years and over; and others at higher risk of severe flu illness such as those with diabetes, serious heart, lung, kidney or liver disease, immunosuppression and obesity.

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