New data out says that four out of five people infected show no signs of influenza. These carriers could have spread the virus among their family, co-workers, classmates and patients without ever realising it.
Waikato DHB’s Medical Officer of Health Dr Felicity Dumble is concerned that there may be a sense of complacency this year because of the incredibly mild season in 2016.
“It is important that our staff and our patients are well protected through vaccination where able. Having vaccinated staff has been shown to increase uptake by patients. Inpatients and outpatients will also be offered vaccination,” said Dr Dumble.
“It is also very important that our community get prepared for the flu season. Influenza is much more serious than a cold, and the symptoms are much more severe.”
“Symptoms of influenza include a cough, headache, fever or chills, body aches and pains, fatigue, and generally feeling really crook for about 10 days. As if that wasn’t bad enough, influenza can be severe enough to require hospital treatment, particularly in the very young, elderly, and in people who already have health problems.”
Waikato DHB will start its annual Influenza Immunisation Campaign for staff mid April. The influenza vaccination is already available in the community.
Chief Executive Dr Nigel Murray wants to continue with the good progress achieved last year and see Waikato once again leading the country in our staff uptake of the influenza vaccine.
“Even though we didn’t have a flu season, we did get 83 per cent of staff getting the influenza vaccine last year, and I’d like to congratulate staff on their commitment to patient safety,” said Dr Murray.
“The northern hemisphere has had a particularly nasty strain of influenza this season, seriously affecting many vulnerable people like children and the elderly, and we can expect the same here. So while we were lucky last year and didn’t need to declare an influenza season, it will probably not be the case this time round.”
“We will be running a strong influenza vaccination campaign again this year both with the public and staff and the masking policy for staff and visitors to our hospitals who haven’t had the vaccination will remain in place.”
Waikato DHB’s Medical Officer of Health Dr Felicity Dumble, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tom Watson and Chief Nursing & Midwifery Officer Sue Hayward all endorse the influenza vaccination for staff and patients. The vaccination has proven to be effective in the majority of people; it’s safe to take during pregnancy and has been lifesaving for those who are the most vulnerable.
You can find more about eligibility for free immunisation and what long-term health conditions are on the website: www.fightflu.co.nz
If you are eligible, FREE flu vaccinations are available from your GP or medical centre. Privately funded and FREE flu vaccines are also available from some community pharmacies. Please ask your local pharmacist.