Get a flu shot and protect your family from a nasty strain of Aussie flu headed our way.
Recent research shows that about one in four New Zealanders is infected with influenza each winter. However, many don’t develop symptoms and may be unaware they’re sick until it’s too late.
Protecting your family from the flu is one of the best ways of fighting it. This according to New Zealand’s Health Minister Dr David Clark who says that you’re less likely to contract nasty flu strains such Aussie flu if you are vaccinated. “Our influenza season normally begins from June, so getting vaccinated by mid-May is the best way to be protected for winter. If you’re vaccinated, you’re less likely to catch influenza, less likely to pass it on to others, and less likely to be severely ill if you do catch it,” he says.
The so-called ‘Aussie Flu’ strain (H3N2) will be included as part of the new ‘quadrivalent’ vaccine for New Zealand this winter. Associate Professor Nikki Turner, director, Immunisation Advisory Centre; Department of General Practice and Primary Care, University of Auckland says that last years’ flu season was particularly harsh in Australia and that this has continued in the Northern Hemisphere, and now expected to hit New Zealand.
“People can get their flu shot for free if they’re at high risk of getting influenza, including those aged 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with chronic or serious health conditions, such as heart disease, cancer or severe asthma. Many employers also provide free influenza vaccination to staff, which it is a great way to protect employees’ health at the same time as reducing the disruption to business caused by influenza each winter,” says the Health Minister.
The flu vaccine is available from general practices and many community pharmacies in New Zealand for free for those eligible, or for a small fee.