COVID-19 and influenza update

COVID-19 continues to circulate in the NSW community but at relatively low levels following an increase over winter. The northern hemisphere is currently seeing an increase in COVID-19 circulation.

Influenza transmission in NSW continues to decline from a peak in July and is now circulating at moderate levels in the community.  Both influenza A and influenza B circulated this winter in NSW, with influenza B predominantly affecting children. 


The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has recently issued new recommendations for an additional 2023 COVID-19 booster vaccine dose for people at highest risk. The additional 2023 COVID-19 booster vaccination offers protection against severe disease and is recommended for all adults aged 75 years and older if six months have passed since their last dose. All adults aged 65 to 74 years, and adults aged 18 to 64 years who are severely immunocompromised, should consider an additional dose if six months have passed since their last dose, after discussion with their healthcare provider. Pharmacists are well placed to initiate conversation regarding COVID-19 booster vaccination with their clients and support vaccine uptake. 

ATAGI recommends annual influenza vaccination for all people aged six months and older. Some high-risk populations are eligible for funded influenza vaccination under the National Immunisation Programme (NIP). While protection is generally expected to last throughout the year, the highest level of protection occurs in the first three to four months after vaccination. People who are planning international travel should ensure they have had a 2023 influenza vaccination before departure. In NSW, pharmacist immunisers can administer influenza vaccines to individuals aged five years and over. NSW Health encourages pharmacist immunisers to offer influenza vaccination to their eligible clients, particularly those at increased risk.

Group A Streptococcal disease

Group A Streptococcus (GAS) bacteria can cause a spectrum of disease from non-invasive infections such as sore throats and skin sores, to invasive disease (iGAS) including sepsis, necrotising fasciitis, streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, bone/joint infections, meningitis and pneumonia. An increase in cases of iGAS has been observed in NSW since late 2022, including an increase in serious outcomes in children. People most at risk include:

  • infants/young children
  • adults aged over 65 years
  • peripartum women
  • people in contact with someone with GAS infection in the past 30 days
  • people with a recent diagnosis of pharyngitis, impetigo or scarlet fever
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people
  • people who are immunosuppressed or who have a chronic disease such as diabetes.

NSW Health encourages pharmacists in the community to support awareness of GAS and refer patients to general practice or acute care settings if indicated. Further information is available on the NSW Health website