COVID-19 and flu information for Aboriginal communities
Information for Aboriginal people and communities on COVID-19 and flu to help keep you and your community safe this winter.
Protecting our mob this winter
With winter here, the best way you and your family can stay well and keep doing the things you love is to:
- Stay up to date with your COVID-19 (including your booster or winter booster dose if eligible) and flu vaccinations to help protect yourself and those around you.
- Wear a face mask when out in large crowds or when you can’t keep your distance from others
- Stay home if you’re not feeling well. Do a PCR test (or a rapid antigen test if you can’t get a PCR test and register a positive COVID-19 result on Service NSW) and if your result is negative, stay at home until you feel better. If your test is positive, you need to self-isolate at home for 7 days and follow the testing positive to COVID-19 and managing COVID-19 at home advice. Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Pacific Islander people aged 35 and over are at higher risk of serious illness and may be able to access antivirals. Speak to your GP or Aboriginal Health worker.
- Get testedif you have any COVID-19 symptoms, even if you’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19. Get together with family, friends or colleagues outdoors or in well-ventilated areas.
- Wash your hands or sanitise regularly.
- Wear a mask when indoors and when you can’t physically distance from others.
- Have a yarn with your GP, pharmacist, Aboriginal Medical Service or Aboriginal Health Worker if you have any questions about flu, COVID-19 or your health.
By taking these steps, you can help to keep you and your loved ones safe from COVID-19.
Staying up to date with COVID-19 and flu vaccinations
Flu is circulating in NSW for the first time in 2 years, alongside COVID-19. Staying up to date with your vaccinations this winter will help keep your immunity strong, even if you’ve already had COVID-19.
The flu vaccine is available and is free for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people aged 6 months or over.
Although the symptoms are similar, flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses. It is important to protect yourself and the community from both viruses.
Flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be given together, at the same time.
COVID-19 booster doses
Booster doses are recommended for anyone 16 years and over. You can get a booster dose 3 months after your second vaccination (or 3 months after a confirmed COVID-19 infection). A booster strengthens your protection against serious illness up to 95%.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and over are also eligible for a winter COVID-19 vaccine (second booster) 4 months after your first booster dose to help keep your immunity strong. If you get COVID-19 before your winter booster dose, wait 3 months to receive it.
COVID-19 vaccines used in Australia are safe and are effective against COVID-19. All people aged 5 and older are eligible to get COVID-19 vaccines.
Get your flu and COVID-19 vaccine
Visit a NSW Health Vaccination Centre, your local GP, pharmacy, or Aboriginal Medical Service to receive a vaccine.
To speak to someone one-on-one about COVID-19 vaccination, call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080. You can also SMS “Hey EVA” to 0481 611 382 if you need support to get a vaccine.
If you have questions about the COVID-19 and flu vaccines, have a yarn with your GP, pharmacist, Aboriginal Medical Service or Aboriginal Health Worker.
Getting tested for COVID-19
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should get tested immediately and stay home until you no longer have symptoms. Symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Shortness or breath (difficulty breathing)
- Runny nose
- Loss or taste and smell.
What COVID-19 test should I do?
Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Pacific Islander people aged 35 and over are at higher risk of severe illness. This means it’s critical to get tested with a PCR (nose and throat swab) test at a testing clinic immediately if you have symptoms, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, as they are more accurate.
There are treatments available that can only be prescribed in the early stages of the disease. If you can’t get a PCR test result quickly, do a rapid antigen test (if you have one) while you wait for the PCR test result. For further information, see the What COVID-19 test should I do? (PDF, 99.66 KB)fact sheet.
What happens if my test is positive?
If you test positive to COVID-19, your doctor may be able to prescribe you antiviral medications or other early treatment if you’re eligible to stop you from getting really sick. You will need to take this medicine as soon as possible after you test positive.
It’s a good idea to speak to your doctor now about antiviral medication or other early treatment so you can ask questions and understand your options early.
Follow the advice for people testing positive to COVID-19 and managing COVID-19 safely at home, including self-isolating for 7 days.
Anyone who has been exposed to a person with COVID-19 must follow the household and close contact guidelines.
Read the rules if you need to self-isolate.
Staying safe at large gatherings and sorry business
COVID-19 and flu spreads easily between family members, especially when we gather together for joyful celebrations or sorry business. It is important to stay safe when attending large gatherings, including sorry business, to help protect your family, friends and community. Let’s help keep our mob safe this winter!
- Do not attend any event if you feel unwell, even if you have been vaccinated.
- Get a PCR (nose and throat swab) test and self-isolate to keep yourself and others safe. Also encourage your guests to get tested before a large gathering as an additional precaution to keep everyone safe.
- Wear a face mask if you’re in large crowds and can’t physically distance.
- Wash your hands well and often and keep some hand sanitizer with you.
Looking after your mental health and wellbeing
COVID-19 can impact you, your family and friends in different ways.
It’s important to keep looking after yourself and others, and build these simple actions into each day:
- Connect with friends and family
- Maintain connection with culture
- Stick to a daily routine or create a new one
- Move your body as much as you can
- Eat a range of healthy foods.
If you or someone you know needs help, there is always support available. Speak with someone you trust or reach out to on support services available in NSW. There are also wellbeing resources and tips available.