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Vulnerable urged to get flu shots

5 August, 2014

Vulnerable urged to get flu shots

Reports of the number of flu cases on the West Coast rising have prompted local health professionals to urge everyone, particularly pregnant women, older people and those with other health conditions, to get immunised.

More elderly and people with chronic health conditions are having their flu shots this year than previously, general practices have reported. However there are a few Coasters who have been transferred to Christchurch in very serious condition with complications from influenza over the past few weeks.

One of the target groups health practitioners particularly want to reach is pregnant women. Flu vaccinations are recommended and funded for every pregnant woman because antibody levels are at their highest during the year after vaccination.

Community and Public Health Medical Officer of Health Dr Cheryl Brunton says Greymouth GPs have expressed concern about mixed messages around flu vaccinations.

“The reality is, flu is here, it’s a real risk for pregnant women and their babies and the vaccination is strongly recommended for pregnant women. There are free vaccinations for pregnant women until the end of August. The vaccine takes about two weeks to be effective, so the sooner women get their shot, the safer they will be from contracting the flu.”

Grey Hospital Clinical Midwife Manager Chris Davey says pregnant women are often at risk, particularly if they have other small children in daycare or at school.

“Older kids will pick up whatever is going around, including flu, and take it home. Plus mothers-to-be are often flat tack and can be a bit run down to start with. We’re really doing a push through our Lead Maternity Carers (LMCs/midwives) to encourage pregnant women to get their flu shots as soon as possible,” Chris says.

ENDS

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