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Flu vaccine key to easing winter pressure

26 April 2005

Flu vaccine key to easing winter pressure

The Bay of Plenty District Health Board is strongly encouraging Bay of Plenty residents to get immunised this winter to help ease the pressure on hospital resources.

Chief Executive Ron Dunham says he would like to reassure the community the vaccines provided by the Ministry of Health are safe and effective and that immunisation is “without a doubt” the best protection against the flu virus this winter.

“Getting vaccinated this winter not only significantly reduces your chance of catching the flu, it also helps ease the pressure on local hospitals, where resources, including staff and bed space, will be stretched to their full capacity this winter,” says Mr Dunham.

He says the Bay of Plenty District Health Board is always looking at ways to manage the winter rush given the limited space available at Tauranga Hospital. An additional four beds will be opened in May, and the board will continue to look at ways of improving the patient discharge process.

The board strongly encourages patients to approach a general practitioner or medical centre early to avoid becoming very unwell and requiring hospitalisation.

Extra beds will be provided when the hospital refurbishment programme is completed in four years’ time. The construction programme, known as Project LEO - an acronym for leading edge organisation - reflects the board’s desire to create a health care system that reflects best practice. As part of Project LEO, there will be reviews of how services are delivered and opportunities to improve health service delivery methods will be identified.

The flu vaccine is available to the public from 18 April. Those aged 65 years and over - along with at risk groups, such as people with certain medical conditions - can receive it free-of-charge from 26 April.

To find out how you can get your flu vaccination this year, call 0800 FLU INFO or contact your local general practitioner.

ENDS

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