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Shelford Committed To Influenza Vaccination

May 6 2005

All-Black Great Buck Shelford Committed To Influenza Vaccination Campaign Because Of Personal Experience

Former All-Black captain, Buck Shelford says he’s committed to the “You’re never too fit to get hit” influenza vaccination campaign which starts tonight because of his personal experience with the potentially-deadly virus.

The new TV ad campaign fronted by Shelford is sponsored by the Ministry of Health’s National Influenza Strategy Group (NISG).

“Like many people, I thought that being fit and healthy would protect you from getting influenza. But I’ve seen the virus make fit sportspeople really sick and weak for weeks. They’ve had no strength to train or play rugby, or play with the kids – it completely stuffs up their life for a while,” he says.

Shelford says he’s seen people miss out on important games or family events because they’ve caught influenza and he doesn’t want it to happen to him or anyone else.

“I’ve seen half a tour group go down with influenza and it only takes one person in the group to set it off,” he comments.

Now when he’s in New Zealand he makes sure he has an annual influenza vaccination before the onset of winter.

NISG spokesman Dr Lance Jennings says the available vaccines are expected to give the best protection against the strains of influenza likely to be circulating in New Zealand this year, including a newly-emerged New Zealand strain, the A/Wellington (H3N2) strain. The A/Wellington strain accounted for a number of cases in the capital last September and has spread widely in Europe this winter.

“Vaccination remains the best protection against influenza, particularly for high risk groups. Influenza is very easily spread between people. It is not like having a cold – it makes people unwell and miserable for up to ten days and can have serious complications,” comments Dr Jennings.

He particularly recommends vaccination for people 65 years and over or those who are diabetic, asthmatic or who have ongoing medical condition as they are more vulnerable to serious complications if they contract the influenza virus.

Government-funded influenza vaccination is free from a family doctor or nurse before the end of July for people 65 and over or those with an ongoing medical condition such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease.

There is, however, a different vaccine available and affordable for the non-funded eligible groups.

Clinical trial research released by Vaxigrip® manufacturer sanofi pasteur on May 1 shows that Vaxigrip® provides protection against all three expected influenza strains for all population groups. Last night the New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority (Medsafe) approved Vaxigrip® for all population groups in New Zealand. This vaccine is not Government-funded so patients will not be reimbursed for this vaccine. Many employers, however, make Vaxigrip® available free or at reduced cost to staff.

You can call the phone free number 0800 INFLUENZA (0800 463 583 692) or speak to your local doctor or nurse to find out if you are eligible for free vaccine, or if you need to find out more information about influenza go to www.moh.govt.nz.

ENDS

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