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Flu still a threat to health

Friday, 9th August, 2013

The weather might be warming up but the flu is still in the air, according to NSW Health.

NSW Health Director of Communicable Disease Branch, Dr Vicky Sheppeard, yesterday said it was important that people take the risks seriously because in susceptible people, the symptoms can quickly progress to become life-threatening.

It was also not too late in the season for susceptible people to get a vaccination, Dr Sheppeard said.

Other simple steps that can help keep you and your family healthier include:

* Washing your hands regularly with soap and running water;

* Turning away from others and covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze. If a tissue is not available cough or sneeze into your elbow;

* Avoiding close contact with people who are coughing or have a fever;

* Staying at home if you are sick and keeping sick children at home from school and other activities.

The influenza vaccine is available free from GPs to pregnant women and people considered vulnerable to severe influenza, including those with chronic illness, people over 65, and Aboriginal people aged 15 years and older.

“Vaccination during pregnancy is safe,” said Dr Sheppeard.

“The seasonal flu shot has been given to millions of pregnant women over many years and continues to be the best defence against flu for women and their babies.

“It reduces the risk to pregnant women of serious illness and can actually provide protection to their babies through the transfer of antibodies. That protection can last up to six months after birth.

“Babies born to mums who were vaccinated also have lower rates of serious infection.”

Dr Sheppeard also reminded people visiting friends and family in the hospital to use the alcohol-based gel or foam provided in every ward to reduce the spread of germs. 

People who have flu symptoms should postpone visits to hospitals or aged care facilities until they have recovered, she said.

Parents and families can seek advice and information via the free Health Direct Australia service, staffed by registered nurses 24-hours a day, on 1800 022 222.

 
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