Cantabrians are being encouraged to get immunised now before it's too late.
Influenza infections often peak in August in New Zealand and getting vaccinated now could spare you an unpleasant week off work or looking after sick children if flu does begin to take a hold in our communities.
Dr Ramon Pink, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health says Canterbury has been lucky so far but mustn't get complacent – there's is still time to make sure you are protected.
"Just like last year, Canterbury is leading the country in flu vaccinations but although we are doing very well, people haven't responded as quickly as last year and I am concerned that our community might be vulnerable to a late surge in flu infections," Dr Pink says.
"The flu vaccination is the best way you can protect yourself and the people closest to you and for pregnant women, people over 65 or with other underlying illnesses, it's free! In Canterbury, it's also free for under 18s to protect those vulnerable pre-schoolers and to help slow the spread through schools and preschools, and from there into homes."
Dr Pink says the school holidays are a great opportunity to take children to the family's general practice for their vaccine.
"Protecting our children from avoidable harm has surely got to be a priority for all parents."
Flu is a serious and sometimes severe illness well worth avoiding.
"Getting vaccinated every year protects you, and the people closest to you. Even if you are not too worried for yourself, if you can't get it you can't give it– it's the responsible thing to do for your community," he says.
Dr Pink says Cantabrians only need to look to our older people for inspiration, with 72 percent of our over 65s already vaccinated against flu. Many of our senior citizens will have had flu at some time in their lives and have the wisdom to do what they can to avoid repeating the experience.
"Our Canterbury hospitals and services are still compromised post-earthquakes. As it stands, we would struggle to cope with an increase in admissions because of flu.
"We are asking people to do what they can to stay out of hospital so services are available for people who have no choice but to be there. One of the simplest things you can do to help is to have your flu vaccination.
"Even if you have to pay for your vaccination, typically it will cost $30-50, it's still a great investment in your health and that of your community," Dr Pink says.
For media queries contact Canterbury DHB Media Advisor Amy Milne 027 502 7523
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