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Protect yourself from influenza this winter

Protect yourself, your family and friends from influenza this winter

MidCentral District Health Board encourages everyone to take action and get their influenza immunisation to protect themselves, their families and friends, before flu season strikes in winter.

Vaccinations are now available at General Practice clinics and many pharmacies. Following vaccination it takes about two weeks for antibodies to build-up and offer protection.

The vaccines contain four inactivated influenza strains, especially formulated for the New Zealand 2018 season and to match circulating viruses, including the ‘Aussie flu’ strain in the Northern Hemisphere winter recently.

MidCentral DHB’s Chief Executive Officer Kathryn Cook says because there are no live viruses in the vaccine, you cannot get the flu from being vaccinated.

“But, the virus can be anywhere else and it is easy to catch. Also, being fit and healthy won’t protect you from the flu.”

Ms Cook had her flu vaccination this week; one compelling reason being that 80 percent of people infected with the flu virus do not have any signs or symptoms, but can still pass the virus onto other people who can become very sick.

“I didn’t want to be one of the four out of five people infected with the flu who didn’t even realise, and therefore be able to unknowingly pass it on to my loved ones, friends and colleagues,” she said.

“So the best thing to protect your health, and that of those around you, is to have a flu vaccination. The vaccine is available to some people free of charge, so remember to ask your GP or nurse or local pharmacy if you qualify.”

People who qualify for free immunisation include:

• anyone aged 65 years or over.

• pregnant women, at any stage of pregnancy.

• people under 65 years of age, including children, with long-term health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease (including asthma that requires regular preventive therapy), kidney disease and most cancers.

• children aged four and under who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness.

People who do not qualify for free immunisation may still be able to get one free or subsidised from their employer.

How easy is it to catch influenza?

The influenza (flu) virus can be anywhere. It is easy to catch through coughs and sneezes and by touching some surfaces.

Infected people coughing, sneezing or talking creates droplets that can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. When you are unwell it is important to try and keep several metres from others to reduce the spread of the virus.

Is influenza a serious illness?

Influenza (flu) is not the same as a cold. It is a serious disease that can also make other existing conditions, such as breathing or heart problems, even worse. Influenza usually has symptoms such as a sudden onset of illness, high fever, headache, a dry cough and illness usually lasts seven to 10 days. Even a mild case of influenza can disrupt your everyday activities.

Older people, young children and pregnant women can become very ill with flu. Influenza infection during pregnancy can have catastrophic consequences for both mother and baby including premature birth, stillbirth, small for gestational age and perinatal death.

Other advice:

In addition to getting an influenza vaccination, people can protect themselves, their family, friends and colleagues by following these tips:

• wash and dry your hands often

• stay away from people who are sick

• stay away from work, school or visiting people in hospital if you are unwell

• cover your coughs and sneezes; doing so into your sleeve, instead of your hands

For more info and to find out whether you qualify for free immunisation, visit www.fightflu.co.nz or call 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863).

ENDS


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