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Don’t let flu spoil your holidays
April 22, 2016

Don’t let flu spoil your holidays

Kiwis with ongoing medical conditions like asthma, diabetes or respiratory problems should make sure they get an influenza vaccination before they head off for their holidays, says Dr Helen Petousis-Harris director of immunisation research at the Immunisation Advisory Centre and a spokesperson for thenational influenza immunisation campaign.

Dr Petousis-Harris says Queensland health authorities have already reported a record 2200 influenza cases being diagnosed across the state – a popular destination for New Zealanders at this time of year.

“As people gather together in groups on holiday they are more likely to spread the influenza virus. So it’s a good idea to be immunised now for best protection. It can take up to 14 days from vaccination to build immunity.”

She says many people think influenza or ‘the flu’ is just a ‘bad cold’.

“Influenza is not the same as a cold. It can be a serious disease that can put people of any age or state of health in bed for a week or more, lead to complications such as pneumonia or organ failure, a stay in hospital or even death.

“Influenza vaccination prevents thousands of cases of flu every year and it may also prevent you from giving the infection to others, some of whom may be very vulnerable to complications from the disease.

“Pregnant women and their infants are most at risk from influenza and getting vaccinated in pregnancy has been shown to not only prevent flu in the baby early in life but also halve the risk of still birth.”

Influenza vaccinations are free from your doctor or nurse 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 (at any stage of pregnancy)
• Children aged from six months and up to four years of age who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness.

If you are not eligible for free immunisation, you can still get it from a doctor or nurse or some pharmacies for a fee. For advice about influenza immunization visit or call 0800 IMMUNE. The influenza vaccine is a prescription medicine. Talk to your doctor or nurse today about the benefits and possible risks.


Additional information about Influenza:

Influenza or ‘flu can be a serious illness – it’s more than a “bad cold”. Anyone can catch it – even the fit and healthy.

Influenza SymptomsCold Symptoms
Sudden onset of illness. Moderate to severe illness lasting 7-10 daysMild illness
Fever (usually high)Mild fever
Headache (may be severe)Mild headache (congested sinuses)
Dry cough may become moistSometimes a cough
Muscle achesMuscle aches uncommon
ShiveringA runny nose
Bed rest necessary
Can suffer severe complications (e.g. pneumonia)

Influenza facts
Influenza isn’t just a bad cold – it can be serious and can kill
A human sneeze can contain millions of individual influenza viruses
Influenza virus can remain in the air, or on surfaces, for some time, so it can be very difficult to avoid
More than 200,000 New Zealanders contract influenza each year. Of these, it’s estimated that approximately 400 people will die either directly or indirectly as a result of influenza
More than a million Kiwis get annual influenza immunisation
Immunisation helps prepare your immune system to fight influenza
Influenza vaccination is moderately effective. It cannot guarantee you will not catch flu but has been shown to significantly reduce disease and time off work.
You cannot get influenza from the vaccine
Influenza immunisation is FREE for those most at risk of complications from influenza
Influenza vaccination offers protection from the influenza virus – it cannot stop you getting colds or other respiratory viruses.

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