NSW Shadow Health Minister, Mr Walt Secord, has called on the State and Federal Government to consider expanding their free flu vaccination programs.
This is as NSW and Australia experience the worst flu season on record.
Mr Secord said the State and Federal Governments were caught unprepared for the extent of this year’s flu season.
So far, this year, there have been a recorded 48,006 cases in NSW – compared to 35,538 for the entire year of 2016.
Central Coast Local Health District responded to Mr Secord’s criticisms by stating that it plans for increased demands on its services each winter and carries out a range of measures to meet the increase.
“We continue to work closely with our colleagues at NSW Ambulance to ensure timely, high quality and safe patient care, and the system is managing very well, despite significant increases in demand, thanks to the hard work of hospital staff,” said Central Coast Local Health District CEO, Dr Andrew Montague.
Following the early arrival of the flu season this year, the number of people with flu-like symptoms presenting to either Gosford or Wyong emergency departments has continued to increase, with 619 people presenting in July and 739 during August, according to Dr Montague.
“Emergency departments are for life-threatening and serious illness or injury,” he said.
“It is important that members of the community consider whether local services like GPs or pharmacists might not be the most appropriate places to seek care before dialling triple zero or coming to the emergency department.
“If you are unsure you can contact Healthdirect Australia (1800 022 222) for free, health advice from registered nurses 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year.
“While seasonal flu activity across NSW remains high overall, there are some indicators that the increases are slowing across the region.
“The Central Coast saw our local, weekly, flu notifications peak two weeks ago, with 346 flu notifications last week and 515 notifications the week prior.
“If the downward trend continues, we can expect a few more weeks of flu notifications.
“It is not too late to get vaccinated against the flu.
“The influenza vaccine is available free for those at increased risk including: people aged 65 years and over; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged six months to five years; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over; pregnant women; people with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease.
Media release, Aug 26
Maegen Sykes, office of Walt Secord
Media statement, Aug 31
Andrew Montague, Central Coast Local Health District