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This section contains media releases released a little while ago. Please note that due to the long time when some of these were released images have been removed and some links might no longer work.

March 23, 2012

Don't Let the Flu get you! and NISG logos

West Coasters offered free flu protection

West Coasters are being urged to call their doctor or nurse as soon as possible to book their 'flu' vaccination before the start of winter - the vaccination is free for many people.

West Coasters are being urged to call their doctor or nurse as soon as possible to book their 'flu' vaccination before the start of winter - 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 National Influenza Specialist Group (NISG) spokesperson and virus expert Dr Lance Jennings.

"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," he says.

Flu immunisation is free for New Zealanders at high risk of more severe disease and complications - pregnant women, people aged 65 and over, and anyone with ongoing health conditions such as heart disease, strokes, diabetes, respiratory disease (including asthma), kidney disease and most cancers.

Dr Jennings 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 vaccine is only free for eligible groups from a doctor or nurse until July 31. Vaccine is available to other people for a small charge. Immunisation is available, but not free, for healthy children six months and over and adults.

Influenza immunisation cannot give you the flu because it does not contain live viruses. There can be side effects, and these usually disappear within 1-2 days without treatment.

NISG says that as well as getting a flu vaccination you may 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.

For further information go to www.fightflu.co.nz or www.health.govt.nz or call 0800 IMMUNE 0800 466 863.

For more information
Helen Rereti
West Coast PHO
Ph (03) 708 6182

Additional information for sidebar stories:

Influenza virus is different from a cold virus. A cold virus only affects the nose, throat and the upper chest and lasts for a few days.

Comparison: Influenza Symptoms and Cold Symptoms

Comparative risks of Influenza vs Vaccine

Influenza
  • Influenza is caused by a viral infection that affects the respiratory system.
  • Between 10-20% of the population are infected with influenza each year.
  • In serious cases influenza can lead to hospitalisation in all age groups particularly the elderly, pregnant women or those with an on-going medical condition.
  • Symptoms of influenza include fever, headache, body aches and pains.
  • Influenza can lead to pneumonia and in some cases may be life-threatening.

Influenza vaccine (brand varies from year to year along with the specific frequency of reactions but generally...)

  • Most reactions from the vaccine are very mild and usually consist of pain, and sometimes redness or swelling at the injection site.
  • Mild fever and sometime muscle aches may occur in around 7 percent of children and less commonly in adults.
  • High fever can also occasionally occur.
  • As with all medicines there is a rare risk of an immediate severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis which occurs around 1 per million doses. (Note: Vaccinators are trained to treat anaphylaxis.)
  • Influenza vaccines can NOT cause flu, they are not live vaccines.

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