Reminder to be protected from influenza

It is not too late to get your 2019 flu vaccine. Get your vaccine now to protect yourself from flu.

Looking historically across Australia at when influenza season is usually in full swing, we might think we would be at the height of the flu season right now. However, in 2019 in the NT we had a large and narrow peak of influenza in April and early May.

Since then, influenza has been steady at a baseline slightly above non-season numbers. Much of Australia had a similar early rise in flu cases.

Influenza seasons can be variable and there still may be a second wave of influenza in 2019.

Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection. In some people, the infection can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications, including pneumonia. Because it is very contagious and can have serious consequences it is important everyone knows how to stop the spread of flu.

The best way to protect yourself against the influenza virus is by being vaccinated yearly. The vaccination is recommended for anyone over 6 months who wants to protect themselves from flu and especially for those most at risk of severe flu: the young, elderly, pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions or weakened immune systems.

You are eligible for a free influenza vaccine if you fit into any of the following groups:

  • anyone aged 65 years or older, regardless of medical conditions
  • all children aged 6 months to under 5 years
  • all Aboriginal people aged 6 months and over
  • anyone aged 6 months and over with a medical condition that may increase their risk of severe influenza infection
  • pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy – the vaccine also provides protection to the baby in the first 6 months of life.

You can get the 2019 vaccine at a community care centre, Aboriginal Medical Services clinic or remote health centre or your GP.

It is important for parents to know that if their child (aged 6 months to under 9 years) is receiving the vaccine for the first time, 2 doses at least 4 weeks apart are required. Given the flu season can occur at any time of the year, parents are urged to get their child vaccinated as soon as possible in the year.

Anyone aged 6 months or older who is not eligible for a free vaccine and would like to be vaccinated should contact their GP or health care provider for a prescription. Influenza vaccines are also available at vaccine- providing pharmacies for those 16 years and older.

To stop the spread of disease remember to cough or sneeze into your elbow and if using tissues dispose of them immediately in the bin and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. If you are unwell, stay home. Adults can infect others for up to 7 days after becoming sick.

Again, it is not too late to get your 2019 flu vaccine. If you haven’t had your vaccine yet this year get it now.

Source: NT Government