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Free Flu Vaccine For Asthma Sufferers

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation

Media Statement
For immediate use

11 April, 2008

Over half a million Kiwis with respiratory conditions may be eligible for free flu vaccine

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation is recommending New Zealanders with asthma or other respiratory conditions talk to their GP or practice nurse about a free flu vaccination, sooner rather than later.

Executive Director, Jane Patterson, gave the Foundation’s support to the Ministry of Health’s “Kung Fu Flu” campaign today. Jane estimates more than 500 000 people may be eligible for a free jab because of their respiratory health. Influenza, a potentially serious viral infection that is much worse than a cold, can be particularly dangerous for people with respiratory conditions.

All New Zealanders over 65 or with chronic respiratory conditions are among those groups considered “at risk” and entitled to a free vaccination. This includes people with chronic bronchitis, emphysema or people with asthma who take regular preventer medicine. However, the vaccinations are only free for these people until 30 June, 2008. The vaccine can take a couple of weeks to take effect.

“One in four kids and one in six adults are estimated to have asthma,” Jane says.

“That’s a lot of people. They need to be aware of the importance of getting vaccinated against the flu and for many people it’s free. Even if someone has previously been vaccinated, because of the different strains going around it pays to be newly vaccinated every year.”

For more information about the vaccine people can contact the Ministry of Health on 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863).

The Foundation is promoting vaccination as part of its annual Balloon Day campaign to increase awareness of asthma and raise money for research that benefits children with asthma.

Ends

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