John Hunter Hospital patients and visitors received free flu vaccinations after one of the worst flu seasons on record

Immunity: Kanako Yajima, of Lambton, received one of the free flu vaccines at the John Hunter Hospital on Monday.PATIENTSand visitors to John Hunter Hospitalreceived free flu vaccinations on Monday to encourage more peopleto vaccinatethis winter.

Following one of the worst flu seasons on record last year, which caused more than 650 flu-related deaths, thevaccine has been provided free for a limited time in communities across the state as part of NSW Health’s $1.75 million immunisation campaign.

Related: Fatal flu

Hunter New England Health public health physician David Durrheim said vaccination offered the best protection against the flu.

“The best time to have the flu vaccine isnow, to ensure your protection doesn’t wane before the flu season peaks,”Dr Durrheim said.

“The vaccine takes two weeks to be fully effective.

“The World Health Organization advisesthis year’s flu vaccine will likely be a better match to the four circulating strains and offer higher protection than last year.

“We urge everyone to get the flu jab to build our immunity in the community and beat the flu bug this winter – it could save your life.”

Related reading: Influenza A has hit the Hunter hard

Free flu shots are also available to members of the community who are pregnant, people over 65 years of age, most Aboriginal people and those with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart problems.

Children up to five years of age can also receive the flu vaccine for free under the NSW Government’s $22.75 million immunisation programs in 2017-18.

Dr Durrheim urged people to stay home when sick, cough and sneeze into their elbow, and wash their hands.

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