MEDIA RELEASES

Influenza is in Northland

With positive influenza tests in the laboratory it is only a matter of time before Northland will be in the grips of the flu season.

As of last week, five North Island DHBs were reporting levels above the seasonal threshold (the level we use to define the presence of the seasonal flu outbreak).

Clinical Director, health of older people and clinical services Dr Alan Davis explains:  “We know this year’s main virus strain A (H3N2) is in Northland as it was responsible for a nasty "mini-outbreak" in one of our hospital wards at the very end of last year's flu season. It was so serious that it caused the ward to be closed to new patients for nearly two weeks.”

“We know that it was a visitor who brought influenza to the ward and so we ask people with respiratory infections (coughs, colds, etc.) not to visit people in hospitals”.

As the flu season does not finish until about the end of September and the vaccine takes only two weeks to reach maximum effect, it is definitely still worth getting vaccinated.

Influenza or ‘flu’ is more than a ‘bad cold’ – it can be a serious illness and anyone can catch it.  Even fit and healthy people can get very sick from it, according to Dr Davis.

Northland DHB provides free Influenza vaccination to staff and contractors and 70 per cent of staff have taken the opportunity to receive the free vaccination.

“Our overall objectives are to ensure that we support a healthy workforce and to prevent staff from giving Influenza to our patients.  The best way to achieve this is to ensure that all staff are vaccinated against Influenza.”  

Those eligible for the free publicly-funded influenza vaccine are:

  • Individuals 65 years and over with cardiac and respiratory conditions, and all high-risk children;
  • Individuals under 65 years of age with other medical conditions, including pregnant women;
  • Well individuals 65 years and over.

Influenza immunisation cannot give you the ‘flu’ because it does not contain live viruses. There can be side effects, but these usually disappear within 1-2 days.  Vaccination is strongly recommended and is free to those people until 31st July.



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