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Rise in flu vaccinations, still not enough

13 July 2006

Rise in number of people vaccinated against InFLUenza – but it’s not enough

This from the Bay of Plenty and Lakes Medical Officer of Health, Dr Phil Shoemack in response to an 8% increase in the number of people immunised in the Bay of Plenty this season (34,470) compared to 2005 (31,860).

This means 17.5% of the population is protected against inFLUenza, according to latest figures from the National Influenza Strategy Group.

“It’s encouraging to see the figure has gone up, but it means an awful lot of people are not protected,” says Dr Shoemack. “The inFLUenza season is well underway, I’d expect most people will have heard about, or know someone who has suffered it.”

He believes the term ‘flu’ is used too casually and often confused with the common cold.

“One hundred New Zealanders die from inFLUenza every year – it’s serious,” says Dr Shoemack. “If you have inFLUenza, you won’t be at work with a sniffle, it could mean you are bedridden for up to three weeks with fever, aches and pains, sore throat, cough and loss of appetite.”

While the free campaign for people aged 65 and over or people of any age who have a long-term health condition such as heart disease, diabetes or chronic asthma came to a close 30 June - the vaccine is still available to everyone.

“It’s not too late to protect yourself against inFLUenza,” says Dr Phil Shoemack. “I’d advise people to book an appointment with their GP and get immunised, it takes two weeks to kick in, so the time is now.”

He reminds people to keep at least one metre away from anyone who is sick and remember to wash their hands thoroughly after eating, sneezing, using the toilet and blowing the nose.

It costs approximately $25 to get vaccinated against inFLUenza. According to the World Health Organisation the two vaccines, Vaxigroup and Fluvax, are expected to give the best protection against the strains of inFLUenza most likely to be circulating in New Zealand during winter.


ENDS

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