Dr Catherine Bateman-Steel
Staff Specialist and Deputy Director
South Eastern Sydney Local Health District Public Health Unit
“The Public Health Unit is notified of health risks in the community. It’s a bit like emergency but instead of having people presenting, we have information constantly coming in. We have to triage, work out what to act on, and then do what we can to keep people protected. For example, if someone has measles, it’s their doctor or hospital they will go to, but they have to notify us, we then work out who they’ve been in contact with and where they got it from, then inform any members of the public that are at risk.
We are focussing really hard on preparing for flu season this year, after such a bad season last year. People see flu like a bad cold, and if they get it, they should just soldier on. Actually, going to work is the worst possible thing you could do. You are exposing people to the virus and if it’s a child with low immunity, a pregnant woman, a cancer patient, or the elderly, getting the flu can be really, really serious for them. Even fit, healthy people have had very serious outcomes with flu. It is so important for everyone to have a flu shot. I see it as a wall of protection between the virus and those who are most vulnerable.”