Guard against flu this winter
Health Minister Dr David Clark is one of more than a million New Zealanders who will get vaccinated against influenza this year. The annual campaign begins this week.
“We can protect ourselves and our families by getting immunised, to reduce the spread of influenza to the most vulnerable people in the community. While many people experience moderate illness from the flu, around 400 New Zealanders die each year from the disease, and many more need hospital treatment,” David Clark said.
“People can get their influenza vaccine free if they’re at high risk of getting the illness, including those aged 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with chronic or serious health conditions, such as heart disease, cancer or severe asthma. Children aged 4 and under who have a history of significant respiratory illness are also eligible.
“This year, the influenza campaign focuses on people aged 65 and older. This age group is eligible for a free flu shot, but many don’t see themselves as needing one,” David Clark said.
“An annual influenza immunisation can keep you healthy and active for longer. Even fit and healthy people can get seriously ill from the flu, and for older people, a serious case can have a long lasting impact on their quality of life and independence.
“Last year a record 1.3 million New Zealanders were immunised against influenza, after the northern hemisphere experienced a particularly severe winter. We were lucky in New Zealand last year, but we shouldn’t be complacent – a bad flu season could happen any time. Influenza immunisation is important every year.”
The influenza immunisation programme begins a little later this year on April 1, to ensure that the vaccine continues to provide protection through to the peak of the flu season, usually in late winter. This year’s funded vaccine will protect against four strains of influenza, including updated strains of influenza A(H3N2) and influenza B.
“Many employers provide free influenza vaccination to staff, which it is a great way to protect employees’ health at the same time as reducing the disruption to business caused by influenza each winter.
“The vaccine is available free from general practices and many community pharmacies for those eligible, or for a small fee for everyone else,” David Clark said.
Additional information, images and resources are available from: www.influenza.org.nz/resources