News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Busy hospitals fear flu influx

Busy hospitals fear flu influx

Busy hospitals say a rise in serious influenza cases is the last thing they need this winter.

“Our hospitals are already coping with a rise in patient numbers as winter hits. One thing that would really help ease the pressure is for those people eligible for free influenza immunisation to get protection now. Wider immunisation could minimise the risk of a sudden influx into the hospitals,” says Dr Lance Jennings, a virologist and spokesperson for the National Influenza Specialist Group (NISG)1.

He says influenza is a serious disease, especially for people with underlying medical conditions. It can make their condition much worse and lead to hospitalisation and even death. Influenza usually has symptoms such as a sudden onset of illness, high fever, headache, a dry cough and illness usually lasts 7-10 days.

“It’s not too late for eligible New Zealanders to protect themselves with a free flu vaccination – the Government’s subsidised season runs until July 31,” advises Dr Jennings.

Dr Jennings says that all three types of influenza virus currently in circulation are covered by the 2014 season influenza vaccine.

“We’re also seeing other respiratory viral infections, including common colds, in the community and it’s important people don’t confuse them with actual influenza. They may have some similar symptoms but they’re not the same thing. The influenza vaccine does not stop colds.”

“Influenza tends to spread more easily in cold, dry air so that’s one reason we see cases rise in winter. Studies have shown that human influenza viruses generally can survive on hard surfaces between two and eight hours so that’s why we stress the importance of good hand and respiratory hygiene and keeping your distance if you’re sneezing or coughing.”

NISG says that as well as getting an influenza vaccination you may protect yourself and your family/whanau from influenza if you:

Wash and dry your hands often
Stay away from people who are sick
Stay away from work or school if you’re unwell
Cover your coughs and sneezes.

“We estimate around 1.18 million people have already been vaccinated this year. However, many of those eligible for free vaccination have not taken up the offer so far. That still leaves many vulnerable people unprotected and this is a concern as we head into flu season.

“People, especially those at greatest risk from flu complications, should be immunised as soon as possible. Influenza cases traditionally begin to rise sharply at this time of year and it takes up to two weeks to develop full protection after vaccination.”

Influenza vaccinations are free for New Zealanders until the end of July if you are in one of these groups:

· People aged 65 and over
· Anyone under 65 years of age (including children) with long-term health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease (including asthma), kidney disease and most cancers
Pregnant women
Children aged from six months and up to five years of age who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness.

“Contrary to a widely-held myth, you cannot get influenza from the vaccine, as it does not contain any live virus. Unfortunately some people may be incubating a common cold when vaccinated and then develop respiratory symptoms due to a non-influenza virus.”

For free health advice, call Healthline 0800 611 116. For advice about influenza immunisation visit or text FLU to 515.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Scoop Review Of Books: Worldly And Unworldly

"Being Magdalene" by Fleur Beale The situations shown in this youth novel are shocking, scary, and very moving as we experience Magdalene’s struggle to be a perfect girl as defined by the cruel and unreasonable leader of “The Children of the Faith”, as she moves reluctantly into young womanhood. More>>

Whistle Stop: Netball NZ To Implement New INF Rules

Netball New Zealand (NNZ) will implement the new Official Rules of Netball, as set down by the International Netball Federation (INF), from January 1, 2016. Key changes include the elimination of whistle following a goal, amendments to injury time and changes to setting a penalty. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Waiata Aroha

Vaughan Rapatahana on Chappy by Patricia Grace: With this eminently readable novel Patricia Grace returns to the full-length fiction stage after a hiatus of ten years. More>>

'Ithaca' At Q Theatre: Introducing NZ's World Class Cirque Troupe

NZ’s very own cirque troupe is set to become a household name with the premier of its adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey having secured a key season in Auckland. More>>

Music Awards: The Tuis Are Broody This Year

Topping off a sensationally eventful year both at home and internationally, Nelson born brother-sister duo Broods has taken home four Tuis from this year’s 50th annual Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. More>>


Sport: Richie McCaw Retires From Rugby

Richie McCaw has today confirmed he is hanging up his boots and retiring from professional rugby. The 34-year-old All Blacks captain and most capped All Black of all time has drawn the curtain on his stunning international career which started in Dublin 14 years ago, almost to the day, and ended in London last month when he hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup aloft for the second time. More>>


John McBeth: On Jonah Lomu

For many New Zealanders, the enormity of Jonah Lomu's reputation will have come as a surprise... His deeds were watched and enthused over by movie stars and musicians, politicians and superstars from other codes. He reached into the lives and homes of millions and mixed with famous people most New Zealanders would only have read about. More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news