An impressive milestone has been reached for the Canterbury community this week with more than 100,000 flu vaccinations given since the vaccine was released in early March.
This year the flu vaccine was released earlier than usual to help protect the most vulnerable in the community against the flu, especially with the additional threat of COVID-19.
“Reaching more than 100,000 flu vaccinations so early in the year is encouraging, particularly since it has been achieved in spite of the challenges of vaccine supply and restrictions under COVID-19 Alert Level 4,” says Dr Ramon Pink, Medical Officer of Health.
One of the priority groups for early access to the flu vaccine are people aged 65 and over. More people in this group have now been vaccinated this year than for the whole of last year.
“Having the flu vaccination is still your best protection against the flu. Priority groups should have their vaccination as soon as possible if they haven’t already,” says Dr Pink.
The success to date is thanks to the work of General Practice teams, pharmacists and occupational health vaccinators who have adapted the way they provided flu vaccinations under Alert Level 4.
While there are still some challenges with supply of the flu vaccine in Canterbury, people are encouraged to contact their GP or pharmacist to check when they can come in for their vaccination.
The flu vaccination is now available for the general public, and is free for the following priority groups:
- people aged 65 and over
- pregnant women
- anyone with certain chronic health conditions
- children aged 4 and under with a history of severe respiratory illness.
“Now more than ever it is important to do what we can to protect the community and reduce pressure on the health system as it continues to respond to the threat of COVID-19,” says Dr Pink.
General advice for staying well
Help keep yourself, your whānau and your community healthy by:
· regularly washing your hands with soap and water
· thoroughly drying your hands after washing them
· sneezing and coughing into a tissue, clothing or your elbow
· staying home if you feel unwell.