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Community & Business

13 November, 2022

JE vaccine expansion

The Japanese encephalitis (JE) vaccine is now available to residents in Gilgandra and 38 other local government areas, if they meet the criteria.

By Emily Middleton

JE vaccine is now recommended for people aged two months or older who live or routinely work the identified local government areas, and with JE risk in the west of NSW who: 

• Spend significant time outdoors (four hours per day), for unavoidable work, recreation, education, or other essential activities, 

• Or are living in temporary or flood damaged accommodation (e.g. camps, tents, dwellings exposed to the external environment) that place them at increased risk of exposure to mosquitoes, 

• Or are engaged in the prolonged outdoor recovery efforts (clean up) of stagnant waters following floods. 

NSW Health and the NSW Department of Primary Industries are working closely together, with the support of local councils, to ensure a comprehensive response to JE, including vaccination, and mosquito surveillance and control. 

NSW Health is supporting local councils to undertake mosquito control and other surveillance activities. JE vaccine is available through local General Practitioners (GPs). People who meet the eligibility criteria should make an appointment with their GP and let them know it is for the JE vaccine. 

Some GPs may require a few days’ notice so they can order the vaccine. Last mosquito season, 13 people in NSW were clinically diagnosed with JE in NSW and two of those people sadly died. 

All were estimated to have acquired the virus between mid-January and the end of February 2022. Sentinel surveillance for JE in mosquitos has commenced for this mosquito season. JE is a serious disease caused by the JE virus, how- ever only around one per cent of people infected with the JE virus will experience symptoms. JE is spread to humans by infected mosquitoes. 

People are not able to pass the virus to other people. Humans also cannot get infected with the virus by touching an infected animal or eating animal products, including pork products. 

Mosquitoes can carry a range of viruses for which there are no vaccines, so it is vital to avoid mosquito bites. 

 Protect yourself and your family by: 

• Covering openings such as windows and doors with insect screens and checking there are no have gaps in them, 

• Removing items that might collect water (such as old tyres, empty pots) outside your house where mosquitoes can breed, 

• Improving drainage on your property so that water does not become stagnant, 

• Wearing light, loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts, long pants and covered footwear and socks, especially around dusk and dawn, 

• Applying repellent to all areas of exposed skin, using repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, 

• Re-applying repellent regularly, particularly after swimming, being sure to always apply sunscreen first and then apply repellent, and by 

• Using insecticide sprays, vapour dispensing units and mosquito coils to repel mosquitos (mosquito coils should only be used outside). 

 The following local government areas are now eligible for the vaccine: Albury, Balranald, Berrigan, Bland, Bogan, Bourke, Brewarrina, Broken Hill, Carrathool, Central Darling, Cobar, Coolamon, Coonamble, Dubbo Regional, Edward River, Federation, Forbes, Gilgandra, Goulburn, Mulwaree, Greater Hume, Griffith, Hay, Junee, Lachlan, Leeton, Lockhart, Moree Plains, Murray River, Murrumbidgee, Narrabri, Narrandera, Narromine, Parkes, Temora, Unincorporated Far West Area, Wagga Wagga, Walgett, Warren, Warrumbungle, Weddin, and Wentworth.

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