As the country moves into winter, health authorities are urging kiwis to get their influenza jabs to ensure they are protected when the flu strikes.
Wellington Medical Officer of Health Dr Annette Nesdale says everyone should get the vaccine, especially people with pre-existing medical conditions, the self employed and pregnant women.
Dr Nesdale says influenza is far more serious than a winter cold. On average it kills 400 New Zealanders every year, although for most people it is a debilitating and nasty disease, rather than a fatal one.
“People have to think what it will mean to be off work for five to seven days. And it’s easy to pass it on to vulnerable people.”
Dr Nesdale says the vaccine is free to all people over 65, those under 65 with cardio-vascular conditions, or who suffer from chronic respiratory disease, diabetes, chronic renal disease, cancer and some other conditions.
However, as free flu doses are only available until July 31, Dr Nesdale says people should get in touch with their GP or local medical centre to arrange an appointment. She says they should do it as soon as possible, as the jab takes between 10 and 14 days to provide maximum protection. People are vulnerable to the effects of the flu virus during this period.
A spokeswoman for the Petone Union and Community Health Service says the number of flu jab at her clinic this year is about the same as last year.
She says most patients are eligible for free jabs. For those who aren’t, the service charges $15, although that deal is only available to existing patients.
Petone Medical Centre has also recored a small rise in the name of patients being vaccinated. The Centre has a mobile clinic that has visited local workplaces.
Figures from the Auckland-based National Immunisation Strategy Group show that the Capital and Coast and Hutt Valley District Health Board areas recorded small rises in the number of doses requested, in the first four months of 2012, rising to 55190 and 27680 respectively compared with the same months in 2011.
National Immunisation Strategy Group spokeswoman Brenda Saunders says data on the number of jabs administered this winter will not be available until early next year.
Have you had your flu jab yet? If you haven't, why not? We'd like to hear what your views about getting jabbed.Send us your views to email@example.com or online at www.pcn.co.nz/petoneheraldlive