26 September 2023

Health pulls the needles for anti-flu winter jabs

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The Canberra community is being encouraged to book in for their flu vaccination ahead of an expected increase in winter illnesses over the coming months.

Leading the call, Minister for Health, Rachel Stephen-Smith said COVID-19 restrictions over the past two years greatly reduced the levels of exposure people had had to influenza.

“It is expected that the relaxing of restrictions and the return of international arrivals will drive an increase in flu and other respiratory illnesses this winter, but there’s plenty Canberrans can do to stay as healthy as possible,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

“One of the best things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your community is to make sure you are up to date with your vaccinations,” she said.

“That means getting a flu vaccination as well as any COVID-19 vaccinations that you might be eligible for, including booster shots.”

Ms Stephen-Smith said people should continue to practise COVID-smart behaviours, such as staying home if unwell, physical distancing and good hand hygiene.

“I encourage everyone to consider wearing a face mask at public indoor settings or where it is difficult to maintain physical distancing,” the Minister said.

“These behaviours will also help protect against the flu and other respiratory illnesses.”

She said influenza could be very serious and, in severe cases, could result in permanent disability or death.

Ms Stephen-Smith said the peak period for influenza was typically June to September, “but we are already starting to see cases in Canberra so now is the best time to get the flu vaccine.”

She said the flu vaccine was available from GPs (for all ages), pharmacies (for people aged 10 years and over), and Early Childhood Immunisation Centres (for children from six months to under five years of age).

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