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Protecting Tasmanians from the flu

Michael Ferguson, Minister for Health

The Hodgman Liberal Government is working to ensure we are better prepared for winter illnesses than ever before.

As Health Minister, I would like to urge all Tasmanians to play their role in this campaign as we find ourselves drawing closer to the annual winter flu season.

Our message is an important but simple one - get a flu vaccine.

Getting a flu vaccine is the simplest and best protection we have against the flu.

Our flu campaign this year will be aimed at getting as many Tasmanians vaccinated as possible, and is a cornerstone of our winter plan.

The plan is designed to ensure our health agencies have the necessary coordination and capacity to deliver health care in the situation of a high demand flu season.

Every winter, thousands of Tasmanians suffer from flu. As we tragically saw last year, especially among those who are vulnerable to severe flu, flu can be fatal.

Flu puts additional demand on our health services - and while we are doing everything we can to ensure we are as best prepared for this flu season as we have ever been - we need every Tasmanian to do their bit and get vaccinated.

We have already announced free flu vaccines for Tasmanian children aged from six months to under five years in addition to those people who can receive a free vaccine under the National Immunisation Program who are at particular risk - such as the elderly and pregnant women.

It is important that parents with children who are eligible for a flu vaccine see their GP soon – as children receiving the vaccine for the first time require two doses one month apart.

Our health agencies are working together to deliver a comprehensive winter plan, which will include additional hospital beds and workforce management strategies to ensure the very best in health care can be delivered as efficiently as possible.

In addition, Public Health Services is working with Tasmanian aged care providers to help protect their residents and staff from the flu.

More than 70 representatives from aged care facilities around the state attended a recent workshop organised by Public Health Services to support these facilities prepare to for this year’s flu season.

But while we prepare for winter, so too must all Tasmanians.

Get a flu vaccine - it’s your responsibility and your best defence.