“State-wide so far this year
we have already had more than
2500 confirmed notifications of flu.”
– Dr. David Rimmer

With the flu season approaching throughout Queensland, Central West residents are being encouraged
to get their jabs and avoid becoming one of this year’s influenza statistics.

Central West Hospital and Health Service (HHS) Executive Director of Medical Services Dr David
Rimmer said, so far this year, the region had recorded four confirmed notifications of influenza.

“However, the flu season is still to get fully under way in our region,’’ Dr Rimmer said.

“Last year, the Central West recorded 106 confirmed notifications of flu which was the highest number of
such notifications for at least the past five years.

“State-wide so far this year we have already had more than 2500 confirmed notifications of flu.

“We also have the local show season getting under way throughout the Central West during the coming
weeks.

“Having a flu shot before you go will help ensure you are protected from infection and that you don’t
infect others.’’

Dr Rimmer said vaccination was the best way to protect oneself and one’s family.

“It’s just a few minutes of your time and it saves you from the risk of possibly becoming very sick if you
catch the flu,’’ he said.

“You need to be vaccinated every year to keep yourself protected because flu strains change annually
and you will not be immune to new strains, while your immunity to older strains also reduces over time.

“This year’s seasonal flu vaccine is readily available and protects you against four current strains of
influenza – two ‘A’ strains and two ‘B’ strains.

“Everyone should have it, particularly those people who are at higher risk of developing severe
complications from influenza.’’

The at-risk groups include:
• All adults aged 65 years of age or older
• Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years of age or older
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged six months up to five years of age
• Individuals six months of age or older with medical conditions predisposing them to severe
influenza

The seasonal flu vaccine is available through your local doctor or primary health care clinic and is free to
those people in the at-risk groups under the National Immunisation Program. However, a consultation
fee may apply at your GP.

Dr Rimmer said flu jab initiatives were being rolled out across the Central West, including the regular
fluvax clinics for patients and staff.

Last year, Central West Health staff had one of the highest proportions in the state of staff vaccinated,
thereby protecting both themselves and their patients

“While healthy adults usually recover quite well, influenza infection can lead to other medical
complications such as pneumonia,’’ Dr Rimmer said.

“The flu can also be high risk for pregnant women, creating a greater chance of serious problems for
their unborn babies and possibly leading to premature labour.’’

Typical influenza symptoms include:
• Sudden fever
• Dry cough
• Muscle aches and pains
• Fatigue
• Headache
• Sore throat
• Stuffy or runny nose

Dr Rimmer said although vaccination was the single best way to prevent seasonal flu, other simple
measures also could help prevent the spread of the disease.

“Prevention is one of the most important actions for stopping the spread of the flu,” he said.

“Good hygiene can help reduce your risk of spreading or catching the flu.

“If you are feeling unwell or have the flu, stay home and avoid spreading the flu to vulnerable and at-risk
people.”

Tips to prevent the spread of flu:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• When you are sick, keep your distance from others; stay at home from work, school and avoid
other crowded areas. This will help protect others from catching your illness.
• Washing your hands frequently and properly will help protect you from germs which are often
spread when a person touches something that is contaminated and then touches their eyes,
nose, or mouth. Remember to use soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those
around you from getting sick. Dispose of used tissues in a bin and wash your hands immediately
afterwards. If no tissue is available, cover your mouth when you cough by coughing into the
crook of your elbow rather than covering your mouth with your hands.

ENDS