Following the northern hemisphere’s intense 2012/2013 winter season, NSW Health is preparing for a potentially serious flu season, and in particular the likelihood of three strains of influenza – the H1N1, H3N2 and B strains – all circulating at the same time.
NSW hospitals are equipped to manage the increased case load but it’s important to know how you can stay well during the influenza season and avoid hospital.
Everyone, but particularly the high-risk and vulnerable, should:
- Get a plan - if you have a chronic disease such as asthma, plan ahead (eg. preventative asthma medication can take six weeks to become effective).
- Get a jab - flu vaccine is free for people over 65 years of age; pregnant women; Aboriginal people aged 15 years or over; people with underlying medical conditions predisposing them to severe influenza.
- Get a GP - if unwell, see your GP or call healthdirect (1800 022 222) to talk to a registered nurse.
- Get well - wash your hands, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and sneezing and stay at home if unwell.
During winter months, people with colds often turn to emergency departments, which face a seasonally-high case load of serious respiratory conditions, including influenza, pneumonia and severe asthma attacks.
In the first instance, people with a cold or flu-like symptoms should see their GP or contact healthdirect (1800 022 222) to talk to a registered nurse. This will help avoid placing additional pressure on emergency departments.
The Get Ready For Winter plan can be viewed at www.health.nsw.gov.au/getreadyforwinter
Image courtesy of NSW Ministry of Health