MEDIA RELEASES

Northlanders offered free flu protection


With the colder weather here Northlanders are being urged to call their doctor or nurse as soon as possible to book their ‘flu’ vaccination– the vaccination is free for many people.

Influenza or ‘flu’ can be a serious illness – it’s more than a “bad cold”.  Anyone can catch it.  Even fit and healthy people can get it and can get very sick, according to Northland Medical Officer of Health, Dr Clair Mills.

“Some people can end up in hospital and some die because the disease can make other conditions, such as breathing or heart problems, even worse,” she says.

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 by themselves.

Dr Mills says the seriousness of influenza viruses shouldn’t be underestimated.

“Even a moderate dose of ‘flu’ can stop you from working, studying or enjoying other activities for a week or more. And some people feel tired for weeks afterwards.”

Influenza vaccinations are free for New Zealanders from a 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
  • All pregnant women
  • Children aged from six months and up to five years of age who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness.
  • Vaccine is also available to other people for a small charge.

Dr Mills says that as well as getting a ‘flu’ vaccination you can protect yourself and your family/whanau from ‘flu’ if you:

  • Wash and dry your hands often
  • Stay away from people who are sick
  • Stay away from work or school if you’re unwell
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.

“If do feel unwell you should contact Healthline for free advice or see your doctor or nurse early, especially if you have an ongoing medical condition. Don’t wait until it becomes an emergency.  Emergency departments are for real emergencies,” advises Dr Mills.

For further influenza information go to www.fightflu.co.nz or www.moh.govt.nz or call 0800 IMMUNE 0800 466 863. For free health advice, call Healthline 0800 611 116.

 




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