The NSW Government has enabled pharmacists to administer flu vaccinations to children from ten years of age.
NSW Health Minister, Brad Hazzard, said giving families more options to protect their children against flu is sensible, with the likely convergence of a COVID-19 pandemic with winter flu.
“Last year was the longest flu season on record, and in 2017, more than 650 people in NSW died from flu-related conditions, and now we have COVID-19,” Hazzard said.
“While the flu vaccine won’t combat COVID-19, it will help reduce the severity and spread of flu, which can lower a person’s immunity and make them susceptible to other illnesses.
“By allowing pharmacists to administer privately purchased flu vaccines to people aged 10 years and over, families now have more choice when booking-in for a flu jab,” he added.
According to Hazzard, the NSW Government has invested approximately $130M in the 2019-20 Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines.
NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said this year’s flu vaccine is expected to be available from mid-April and she urges everyone who can be vaccinated to do so.
“Each year in NSW, we have hundreds of flu-related deaths and many of those who die were infected by the people they know and love who weren’t vaccinated,” Dr Chant said.
“Not only do you risk your own life by not getting vaccinated against flu, but you can potentially spread the infection to others more vulnerable, like children and the elderly.
“This year’s flu vaccine will be specifically tailored to the strains that we expect will pose the greatest risk, but as always, call ahead to ensure that your GP or pharmacist has your dose,” she said.
Last year, around 2.5 million doses of Government-funded flu vaccines were distributed across NSW.
This year, it is expected that more than 2.6 million doses will be made available.
People aged 65 and over, pregnant women, Aboriginal people and those with high-risk medical conditions can be vaccinated for free by GPs under the National Immunisation Program.
The free NSW-funded vaccine is available to all children aged 6 months to 5 years old.
Amendments to the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation Act 2008 to lower the age that pharmacists can supply and administer a private market influenza vaccine to include people aged 10 years and over, are expected to come into effect before the end of March.
Press release, Mar 16