Time is running out for people who are eligible to get their
free influenza vaccination.
Leading international virologist and Clinical Associate
Professor of Virology and Serology for the Canterbury District Health Board, Dr
Lance Jennings says there’s only one month for eligible people to take advantage
of the free vaccination.
Dr Jennings is advising Cantabrians not to be complacent
about influenza this year and says although we’ve had a quiet season so far, the
situation could change very quickly.
“The usual peak for influenza is July and August. So far this
year we have followed the traditional pattern and level of influenza cases. Even
if we continue along this path we will see an increase in people catching the
flu in the next two months,” Dr Jennings says.
The number of people hospitalised with influenza like
illnesses for the 2010-2011 financial year was 56. This compares to 132
(2009-2010) and 109 (2008-2009) people hospitalised respectively for the two
previous financial years.
“Given the more challenging living conditions that many of us
in Canterbury are enduring and the effect of stress on our immune systems, it is
entirely possible for the flu to reach the high levels seen during the pandemic
in 2009,” he says.
Influenza strains appearing in the community to date are H1N1
(pandemic swine flu), H3N2 and B. This year’s seasonal vaccine protects against
“Influenza H3N2 is particularly serious for older folk while
the B strain is of special concern for younger age groups. We already know
influenza can be fatal, especially for people with chronic health conditions,”
Dr Jennings says.
In an effort to address post-earthquake living conditions,
including the arrival of winter weather and the reduction of available hospital
beds, influenza vaccinations are free to all Cantabrians from six months to
under 18-years of age. People 65-years and over, those with chronic illness and
pregnant women also qualify for a free vaccination. The offer finishes on July
31 and it takes two weeks after the vaccination before you are fully
Make an appointment with your general practice team to get
the influenza vaccination now. For advice about influenza immunisation visit www.fightflu.co.nz or text FLU to 515.
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