The number of Waikato people who have been immunised against influenza this year is already the second highest in six years, with nearly three months to go.
Just over 76,000 people – or 20 per cent of the Waikato population – had their ‘flu jabs’ in the period ending Friday 2 May.
“At this rate, Waikato should comfortably pass the 95,000 vaccinations administered last year,” said Waikato District Health Board public health medicine specialist Dr Felicity Dumble.
“Nationally, for the same period (until 2 May) the numbers tell us that 20 per cent of New Zealand has been immunised against influenza, compared to 27 per cent at 31 July 2013.”
Dr Dumble urged as many Waikato people as possible to take advantage of the widely accessible influenza immunisation programme before 31 July.
“The sooner you are immunised, the sooner you are protected against this deadly virus,” she said.
You can get the vaccine at your general practice or some pharmacies for a small cost.
If you are over 65 or in a high risk group (i.e. pregnant or have a respiratory condition), it will be free. Some workplaces also offer a free immunisation programme for staff.
“Influenza is not the common cold. While head colds and similar viruses are not nice, influenza is very serious and can make you extremely unwell,” said Dr Dumble.
Symptoms include fever, chills, aches, runny nose, a cough and upset stomach.
To prevent the spread of influenza and other winter illnesses, stay at home until you are better and follow basic hygiene practices:
- Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds and dry them for 20 seconds – or use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Don’t share drinks.
- Avoid crowded places.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze – then put the tissue in a lined bin and wash your hands.
Respiratory virus monitoring at Waikato Hospital also reports little incidence of respiratory virus around the region at the moment.
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