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Time to be vaccinated against influenza

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Locals are being urged to make an appointment for influenza vaccination as the number of confirmed cases and hospitalisations begin to rise in the Wide Bay.

Bundaberg Region residents are being encouraged to make an appointment for the influenza vaccination as the number of confirmed cases and hospitalisations begin to rise in the Wide Bay.

Wide Bay Public Health Unit acting director and public health physician Dr David Harley said with Australians now travelling more there was an expectation that there would be a return to pre-COVID influenza numbers.

“Influenza virus is common and can cause serious illness especially for vulnerable people,” Dr Harley said.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic there was a closure of international travel and restrictions on interstate travel, which alongside social distancing and good hand hygiene was a factor in influenza not being as prevalent as it normally is in Australia and a reduction in confirmed cases.

“With Australians travelling again for many months now, we expect we will see a return of influenza spreading through the community – which is why it’s important to ensure you’re vaccinated.

“Numbers are only starting to rise, but now is the time to get vaccinated before influenza becomes more widespread in the community.”

People who are eligible for free vaccination under the NIP include:

• Children aged six months to under five years
• People aged 65 years or over
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
• Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
• People aged 6 months or over who have a medical condition that is associated with an increased risk of influenza disease complications

Dr Harley said while these groups were eligible for free vaccination, he encouraged other people to be vaccinated ahead of the flu season.

“Vaccination is an important defence against influenza, and it is easy, simple, effective, accessible and either free or low cost in Australia,” Dr Harley said.

“I encourage all Queenslanders to make an appointment with their doctor or vaccination provider.

“Besides vaccination, there are also a number of other active steps that people can take to prevent the spread of vaccination.

“One of the simplest steps people can take to limit the spread of influenza and other viruses is good hand hygiene and cough etiquette.

“Frequent hand washing with soap and water or alcohol-based hand gel is highly effective – especially before and after social interactions or touching commonly used areas.

“It’s also important when coughing to use a tissue or the inside of your arm, put used tissues straight into the bin and clean frequently touched services such as door handles, fridge doors, tables and benches.

“I also encourage people to consider wearing a mask in health settings, on public transport and in any crowded spaces – even if it’s not mandatory.

“Lastly, please stay at home when you’re sick and if you’re concerned about your symptoms please contact your doctor.”

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