Influenza immunisations now available in Waikato
Date: Wednesday 13 March 2013
INFLUENZA IMMUNISATIONS NOW AVAILABLE IN WAIKATO
Waikato residents are being urged to get their annual influenza immunisation now, before the disease enters the community.
Vaccine has just arrived in GP surgeries across the country and now is the best time to be vaccinated as it can take up to two weeks from vaccination to develop immunity.
Each year in New Zealand influenza causes an estimated 400 deaths either directly or indirectly, and last year put more than 1000 people in hospital.
“Influenza is a serious illness with severe effects including hospitalisation, complications and even death,” Waikato DHB immunisation coordinator Kim Hunter said.
Influenza immunisation is free from a GP or nurse for New Zealanders at high risk of complications - pregnant women, people aged 65 and over, and for people of any age with long-term health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease (including asthma), kidney disease and most cancers.
“Having an influenza vaccine yearly is an important way to protect yourself and others. As the circulating influenza strains change each year, so does the vaccine, so annual vaccination is necessary,” Mrs Hunter said.
The vaccine is generally well tolerated, while some people may experience localised pain or redness, most reactions are mild.
“The vaccine is not live and it is not possible to catch influenza from the vaccine. I encourage everyone to have their vaccine early in the season, before the viruses are circulating,” she said.
Waikato DHB is leading the charge within the organisation.
“Health and Safety staff have recruited ‘ward influenza champions’ who have been trained to vaccinate their colleagues in their workplaces.
“DHB staff are encouraged to have their vaccinations not only to protect themselves but their patients, families and communities,” Mrs Hunter said.
The National Influenza Strategy Group (NISG) urges that as well as getting an influenza vaccination you may protect yourself and your family/whanau from influenza if you wash and dry your hands often, stay away from people who are sick, stay away from work or school if you’re unwell and cover your coughs and sneezes.
Immunisation is also available, for a small charge, for healthy adults and children six months and over at surgeries and some pharmacies. Many employers provide free vaccination for their employees.
The free influenza vaccination season will end on July 31, 2013.