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Free flu protection for many Aucklanders

Free flu protection for many Aucklanders

This season’s influenza vaccination is free to those who are at high risk of contracting influenza. This includes people 65 years and over or those under 65 but suffering from an on-going medical condition such as diabetes, cardiovascular or respiratory diseases.

In 2007, there were 347 hospital admissions in New Zealand for influenza and 10 – 20 per cent of the population gets influenza each year and up to 50 per cent may be asymptomatic, which means they do not have any obvious symptoms.

ADHB says it’s not just older or sick people who should get an influenza vaccination, but also those who have contact with older people and those suffering from on-going medical conditions, be it through work or at home with friends or family.

“Immunisation is the best protection against influenza. Being fit, active and healthy does not protect you – it’s easily spread and anyone can catch it,” explains Dr Sally Roberts, Department of Microbiology, Auckland District Health Board (ADHB).

The vaccine is available now and for those who don’t qualify for the free vaccine, it costs approximately $30 from GPs until the end of June for those with a medical condition or aged 65 years and over.

“It’s an investment in your health this year. The flu can be debilitating for anyone”

The vaccine is available now and those qualifying can git it free up until the end of June.

“We urge people to see their GP and get their seasonal influenza immunisation as soon as possible, particularly those who are most vulnerable and at high risk of complications. For these people, influenza can be serious and potentially fatal.”

Dr Roberts says the strains of virus vary and the vaccine changes each year to best match the circulating strains for that season. Immunity wanes and it is unlikely that those who were vaccinated last year will still have adequate antibody levels present.

Studies among older patients have shown that influenza immunisation produces a 53 per cent reduction in pneumonia, 50 per cent fewer hospital admissions with respiratory illness and 68 per cent fewer deaths.

The message is starting to get through and the uptake of influenza vaccines in New Zealand in 2007 among people over 65 years was 64 per cent.

This year the government aims to have at least 75 per cent of people aged 65 and over immunised against influenza. Approximately 200,000 doses have already been distributed to practices nationwide.

If people have any questions or concerns they should contact their General Practice or call 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863).

ENDS

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