17 May 2019
Influenza, also known as the flu, is a highly contagious disease that can cause severe illness for older Australians with serious complications including death. The start to this influenza season has seen a high level of influenza activity with recent statistics showing that already at least 54 Australians have died from influenza, of which 42 have been aged 65 and over.
Providers of aged care services should be aware of the following measures that can be put in place to help prevent and control the spread of influenza:
annual vaccination is the single most important measure to prevent influenza and is free for Australians 65 years and over and is available now
wash hands often, particularly before or after contact with consumers; encourage visitors to do the same. Make hand-wash easily accessible
be alert to influenza symptoms
establish an action plan to manage influenza activity; this may include early medical referral, reporting suspected outbreaks of influenza and developing quarantine arrangements
encourage staff and visitors if unwell to not attend an aged care service or other places where they could spread the infection.
Individuals who have contact with older people outside of an aged care service, should also be aware of the above measures, particularly the importance of vaccination for themselves and others.
For more information on influenza vaccination see the Department of Health website at: www.health.gov.au/immunisation.
For additional information for providers on requirements for influenza and infection control, see the Commission's website.
Dr Melanie Wroth MB BS, FRACP
Chief Clinical Advisor