Swine flu vaccination roll-out
As assistant-director of public health, Mr Bell is on the priority list for the first wave of people to be immunised against H1N1, otherwise known as swine flu.
Anyone who has a high exposure to the infection, including health workers, should be vaccinated, he said.
Read more about the swine flu vaccinations.
Mr Bell further qualifies as a high priority because he is on medication for a chronic illness and the drugs he takes suppress his immune system.
The swine flu vaccine is free and with 53,000 vaccines distributed to medical centres throughout the Northern Rivers, it is the people most in need being vaccinated first.
Pregnant women, carers of children under six months, Aboriginal people, anyone who has a predisposed illness such as cardiac or respiratory problems, and front-line health workers are the top priority.
Mr Bell suggests people ask themselves ‘do I really need to have it now?’ to decide if they qualify as a high priority for the vaccination.
The H1N1 vaccine covers you for 12 months and takes you through the next flu season, he said.
The North Coast to date has had 519 confirmed cases of swine flu with 69 hospital admissions, including 14 admissions to intensive care.
Two people have died from swine flu in the region, Mr Bell said.
Reliance on testing for swine flu was phased out in June so it was likely there were many more cases in the community than the official numbers reported.
Talk to your doctor if you are unsure if you need to be vaccinated.