North Coast residents urged to boost immunity this season Coffs Coast Nambucca Valley by News Of The Area - Modern Media - May 12, 2023 HEALTHY North Coast is reminding communities across our region to book a flu shot before winter and the traditional flu season. Healthy North Coast Chief Executive, Monika Wheeler, said there was a resurgence of influenza in 2022 due to the reopening of international borders, and the same risk was likely this year. “Last year’s flu season started in late April and peaked around June, a couple of months earlier than usual,” said Ms Wheeler. “That’s why we are launching some new resources today urging North Coast residents to get in and book a vaccination appointment with their GP or local pharmacy as soon as possible.” Those considered to be at higher risk of severe illness from influenza are eligible for free annual flu vaccination under the National Immunisation Program. This includes: ● Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from six months of age ● children from six months to under five years of age ● people with serious health conditions (including severe asthma, diabetes, immunocompromising conditions, obesity, kidney, heart, lung or liver disease) ● pregnant women ● people aged 65 and over. The influenza vaccine can often be given with other vaccines, including COVID-19. All adults can get a COVID-19 booster if it’s been six months or longer since their last booster or confirmed infection. This is particularly recommended for everyone 65 years and over, and everyone eighteen years and over with medical comorbidities, disability or complex health needs. Local GP, Dr Debra King, said that recent NSW Health COVID-19 Surveillance Reports indicate there is still COVID-19 transmission occurring in the community. “COVID and influenza together have the potential to put significant strain on our health system, which is something we all want to avoid,” said Dr King. As well as vaccination, there are also some simple ways to prevent transmission of the flu virus and COVID-19 including: ● staying home when sick ● covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing ● cleaning your hands regularly with hand sanitiser or soap and running water for 20 seconds ● if you do need to leave home when sick, wearing a mask and avoiding contact with people as much as possible. Ms Wheeler said that Healthy North Coast was also keen to partner with local clinicians, pharmacies, community groups and other businesses to help get the word out about vaccination protection in our community. “Back by popular demand, we have developed a new set of free posters as a timely reminder for community members to ‘boost their immunity’ this flu season, including COVID-19 vaccination. “The poster set is designed for our North Coast communities, with tailored messaging reviewed by local clinicians and an option to customise the posters with your own practice or business logo,” said Ms Wheeler. Posters are currently being distributed directly to all general practices in the region and are available to order from the Healthy North Coast website at https://hnc.org.au/vaccinesprotect/. “I would urge everyone to please speak with their GP, Aboriginal medical service or participating pharmacy today about booking their vaccination and protecting themselves, their family and our community,” Ms Wheeler said. For more information, visit https://hnc.org.au/vaccinesprotect/.