NSW launches flu campaign after horror 2017 season

Published: 13 March 2018 Image credit: Twitter

FLU

After last year’s horror flu season, health authorities are launching an awareness offensive that includes four basic measures to beat the bug, including a new ‘germ detecting’ ultraviolet device to show the public how the virus spreads, in hopes of slashing infections.

This morning, NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard along with NSW Health’s Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant introduced that this year’s winter flu strategy –‘Don’t spread the flu – it’s in your hands’.

The campaign is based on four simple measures that can help people avoid illness, and includes new UV light boxes stationed at NSW transport hubs and shopping centres.

The new UV light ‘germ detectors’ test the cleanliness of your hands, and were demonstrated Dr Kerry Chant.  The user places their hands into the machine, which issues an alert detailing the amount of germs on a user’s skin.  It’s hoped the detectors will encourage more frequent and thorough hand washing.

Hand washing was highlighted as one of the first lines of defence to protect against flu, together with early vaccination.

“Like our campaign says, it’s in your hands, so get your flu shot early, cough into your elbow not your hands, wash your hands regularly and stay at home if you are sick,” Mr Hazzard said.

The flu virus is highly contagious and is commonly spread through droplets when a person coughs or sneezes, and can easily be contracted by touching contaminated surfaces.

For the majority of the public, catching the flu may only result in a few days of feeling unwell and time off of work, but for those with vulnerable immune systems, including the elderly, the virus can be deadly. Last year, more than 650 people died in NSW alone.

As part of the new strategy, Dr Chant encouraged the public to take advantage of the flu vaccine, which authorities say has been improved since last year.

“The World Health Organisation advises this year’s flu vaccine will be a better match to the four circulating strains and offer higher protection than last year,” she said.

The flu vaccine is available from April, but can take up to two weeks to become fully effective.

For pregnant women, children up to six years of age, people over 65 years of age and people affected by some medical conditions, the jab is free.

It was also suggested that those who are sick, stay at home to avoid spreading the virus.

Last year more than 128,000 people in NSW caught the dreaded flu bug,  and it’s hoped that the state’s four step approach will educate the public and cut infection rates significantly.