Rare double strain of flu plaguing the coast

INFLUENZA is on the rise on the NSW mid north coast, sparking calls for people most vulnerable to the illness to receive vaccinations.

Record numbers of Australians have come down with the flu in 2015 after a Federal Government delay to the start of this year's vaccination program.

This winter, a rare double strain of the influenza virus has reportedly added to the spike in cases, with health figures indicating flu cases are 50% higher nationally than last year.

North Coast Public Health Unit director Paul Corben said 55 cases of laboratory-confirmed influenza had been reported on the mid north coast since January, while the number of unreported cases was expected to be much higher.

"Vaccination remains the best way to prevent influenza," Mr Corben said.

"People who don't get vaccinated not only place themselves at risk of the flu and developing potentially serious illness, but also put others at risk of infection."

People considered most vulnerable to severe influenza are eligible for free vaccinations, including the elderly, pregnant women, people with chronic disease and Aboriginal people.

As the 2015 influenza vaccine contains two new strains, Mr Corben urged people to get their flu shots as we move into the most common time of year for catching the flu.

"Influenza vaccination provides protection for about a year, so people who had the seasonal influenza vaccine in 2014 still need to be vaccinated in 2015 to maintain immunity," he said.

"It takes time for the vaccine to work so now is the time to get vaccinated before the winter period when influenza is most prevalent.

"The message is simple - get your flu shot before the flu gets you this winter."

HEALTH TIPS

  • Take preventive measures with personal hygiene, such as covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing.
  • Stay home if you have the flu to avoid infecting others.
  • If you think you may have influenza and need to see a doctor, call first so the clinic can take precautions to reduce the risk to other people.


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