May 29 - June 4, 2022: Issue 540


Expanded ATAGI recommendations on winter COVID-19 booster doses for people at increased risk of severe COVID-19 + NSW Health Minister Urges Everyone to get a Flu shot: hospitals facing 'triple threat' + FREE Flu shot for all from june 1st

Covid Testing at Careel Bay, May 2022

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) have expanded their recommendations on the use of additional (booster) doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

The updates include expanded recommendations concerning an additional winter booster dose for people in the highest risk groups.

In NSW the from Wednesday 18/5-Wednesday 25/5 the Covid statistics are:

Reported Cases: 76,399
Lives Lost: 97
Hospitalisations 18/5: 1,395
Hospitalisations 25/5: 1,209
ICU 18/5: 57
ICU 25/5: 35

To May 24th 2022 there were 3884 current cases of Covid in the LGA.

NSW Health Minister is also urging everyone to get a flu shot. On Tuesday May 24th, Minister Hazzard said NSW hospitals are facing a triple threat with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, a surge in flu cases and staff furloughing due to illness.

ATAGI expands recommendation for winter COVID-19 booster

May 25, 2022: Issued by SENATOR THE HON KATY GALLAGHER, Minister for Finance, Minister for Health, Senator for the Australian Capital Territory

People aged 16 to 64 who have a medical condition that increases their risk of severe COVID-19 illness and people with disability with significant or complex health needs, will be recommended to receive a winter booster vaccination dose from May 30th 2022.

The Australian Government has accepted advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) to expand the booster rollout program to these at-risk population groups.

ATAGI recommended this change to ensure those who are at greater risk of developing severe disease receive the best possible protection.

Healthy people aged 16 to 64 who do not have a risk factor for severe disease and who have received three doses of COVID-19 vaccine are not recommended to receive a winter booster dose at this time. This includes health care workers and pregnant women who do not have other risk factors.

The Government will work with the medical experts, states and territories and community groups to ensure each and every Australian knows the importance of vaccination and how they can take up their opportunity to remain protected.

We will work in partnership to ensure we communicate with Australians in this new cohort and to share information widely across the community. The expansion of eligibility is an important next step in building community protection from COVID and increasing booster rates. The primary goal of the Australian COVID-19 vaccine program is to minimise the risk of severe disease, including hospitalisation and death, from COVID-19.

Today’s advice builds on the ATAGI recommendation on 25 March 2022 for an additional winter booster dose (fourth dose) for most people in high risk groups, including:

  • people aged 65 years and above
  • residents of aged care or disability care facilities
  • people with severe immunocompromise, and
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years or above.

People who are now recommended to receive a fourth dose include people with:

  • Immunocompromising conditions.
  • Cancers.
  • Specific chronic inflammatory conditions.
  • Chronic lung disease.
  • Chronic liver disease.
  • Severe chronic kidney disease.
  • Chronic neurological disease.
  • Diabetes requiring medication.
  • Chronic cardiac disease.
  • People with disability with significant or complex health needs or multiple comorbidities which increase risk of poor outcomes from COVID-19.
  • Severe obesity.
  • Severe underweight.

People who are eligible for the winter dose, but have had a recent infection of COVID-19, should delay their winter booster until 3 months after their infection.

People can book their COVID-19 vaccination using the Vaccine Clinic Finder.

In addition, ATAGI recommends everyone in Australia over the age of 6 months should receive an influenza vaccination.

Influenza vaccinations can be given at the same time as COVID-19 vaccines and should not be delayed if someone is up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines.

People at more risk from influenza are eligible for a free vaccination. This includes:

  • adults 65 years and over
  • children aged 6 months to less than 5 years
  • pregnant women
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over, and
  • people aged 6 months and over with certain medical conditions that increase their chance of severe influenza and its complications.

To book an influenza vaccination, speak to your GP, pharmacist or other immunisation provider.

For more information visit

Stay safe this winter get your flu shot now

May 24, 2022: Issued by The Hon. Brad Hazzard, NSW Minister for Health

NSW residents are being urged to book in for their flu vaccine without delay, with winter just a week away and hospitals already seeing a surge in influenza cases.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said NSW hospitals are facing a triple threat with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, a surge in flu cases and staff furloughing due to illness.

“NSW Health has been warning us for months of the likelihood of a horror flu season, so please, help yourselves and our health staff and get a flu shot,” Mr Hazzard said.

“After two years of COVID, our hospitals do not need the added challenge of avoidable influenza, when flu shots are readily available at GPs and pharmacies.

“With almost no exposure to flu these past two years, it is imperative we all get a flu jab to protect ourselves and the community.”

NSW’s Chief Paediatrician Dr Matt O’Meara said there is particular concern for children aged six months to five years old.

“We are encouraging parents to be alert this flu season as young children are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of flu,” Dr O’Meara said.

“At least 10 per cent of children admitted to hospital with flu will be so sick that they need intensive care. Parents can reduce the risk of that happening, just by getting their child vaccinated.”

Those considered to be at higher risk of severe illness from influenza are eligible for a free flu vaccine. This includes children from six months to under five years of age; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from six months of age; people with serious health conditions, pregnant women, and people aged 65 and over.

NSW Health Secretary Susan Pearce said emergency departments across NSW are currently under significant pressure due to high numbers of COVID-19 cases and now a surge in flu cases, which is impacting the availability of staff.

“Our wonderful frontline healthcare workers are here to help give you the right care if you need it. If you are seriously injured, seriously unwell or have a life-threatening medical emergency, you should call triple zero or attend an emergency department without delay,” Ms Pearce said.

“We are urging the community to support us during this challenging period by making sure those who need emergency medical care can receive it by saving ambulances and emergency departments for saving lives. Please do not call triple zero or attend emergency departments for non-urgent issues.”

If you are not sure if you should go to an emergency department, visit or call Healthdirect for free on 1800 022 222 for fast, expert advice on what to do next. Healthdirect is a 24-hour telephone health advice line staffed by registered nurses. You can also get in touch with your GP for advice and support.

So far this year in NSW, there have been 14,812 reported flu cases and 3,349 people have presented to emergency departments with influenza-like illness.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant urged the community to continue to do the little things that can make a big difference when it comes to curbing the spread of viruses this winter.

“It is important people continue to take simple precautions to protect themselves and each other. This includes wearing a mask indoors when you can’t physically distance, staying at home when you’re unwell, and remembering to practise good hand hygiene,” Dr Chant said.

We can help reduce the COVID-19 and flu risk to ourselves and others by:

  • Staying home if we’re unwell, taking a COVID-19 test straight away and self-isolating.
  • Wearing a mask indoors or wherever we can’t physically distance
  • Getting together outdoors or in large, well-ventilated spaces with open doors and windows
  • Practising good hygiene by washing or sanitising our hands often
  • Taking a rapid antigen test to test for COVID-19 before visiting vulnerable loved ones or going to large gatherings and events
  • Staying up to date with our vaccinations – for both flu and COVID-19.

Free flu shots for all in June

May 30, 2022

A free flu jab will be available to all NSW residents in a month-long blitz from June 1 in an effort to combat this year's expected severe influenza season.

With a sharp increase in flu cases already, the NSW Government will fund flu vaccinations at GPs and pharmacies until June 30.

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said there were 1,140 cases of respiratory illness notified this week, compared with 766 in the previous week and 150 presentations and admissions to hospitals.

"We strongly urge everyone over six months of age to get a flu shot as soon as possible to protect themselves and their loved ones, as the virus is easily spread and potentially deadly," Dr Chant said.

"This is particularly important for those in high-risk groups, such as the elderly and children aged six months to five years. If you live in an aged or disability care facility, are aged over 65 or are immunocompromised, now is the time to book in.

"We also recommend a COVID-19 winter booster if you are eligible, as both flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time."

The Commonwealth Government provides vaccines for vulnerable populations, and funds GPs through the MBS to administer vaccines. However, as COVID-19 has taught us, the role of pharmacies is crucial and the NSW Government is funding community pharmacies to deliver influenza vaccinations this June.

NSW Health has also permitted pharmacies to administer flu vaccines to children aged five years old, reduced from 10 years, making it easier for families to be vaccinated together. GPs will be reimbursed for any flu stock they have already purchased that is used in the month of June for this vaccination program.

The Commonwealth Government provides free flu vaccine for those considered to be at higher risk of severe illness from the flu, including:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from six months of age
  • Children from six months to under five years of age
  • People with serious health conditions (including severe asthma, diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, obesity, kidney, heart, lung or liver disease)
  • Pregnant women
  • People aged 65 and over.

Other protective measures individuals can take include staying at home if sick and washing your hands. Find out more about how to protect yourself from the flu at Influenza (flu) | NSW Government: