Two weeks left to get your flu vaccination
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13 July 2015

Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) reminds those not vaccinated against the flu that they have until July 30 to do so, and given that it takes two weeks to develop immunity, the sooner the better.
 
Whanganui DHB infection prevention and control nurse specialist Jacqueline Pennefather says
uptake at Whanganui Hospital has been encouraging with 83 percent of doctors (the best result to date) and 62 percent of nurses now fully vaccinated.
 
Like many employers, the WDHB offers free vaccinations to its clinical and non-clinical staff who are well aware of this year’s shortened vaccination season due to the vaccine strains being changed. 
 
“If anything, the shortened season has worked well for us,” Mrs Pennefather says. “Aware they had less time to get their vaccination, our staff seemed keen to make sure they didn’t miss out and by taking the vaccinations to wards and offices we’ve made it as easy as we possibly could for people reluctant to leave their workspace.” 
 
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health reports that more than a million vaccines have been distributed this year and as hoped, the most common types of influenza currently in circulation are matched by the 2015 season influenza vaccine strains.
 
The most common strain is A(H3N2) which is normally associated with higher levels of hospital admissions and deaths, particularly amongst older age groups. This year’s vaccine protects against a new A(H3N2) strain.
 
Influenza vaccinations are free for New Zealanders from a doctor or nurse until the end of July if you are aged 65 or over, pregnant, or have long-term health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease (including asthma), kidney disease and most cancers. Families can have their children who meet the criteria, vaccinated free of charge at:
  • their local doctor’s practice
  • the weekly clinic (Tuesdays, 9am-5pm) at WRHN’s Heads Road offices
  • the monthly clinic (first Monday each month, 5pm-7pm) at Whanganui Accident & Medical clinic.
People who are not eligible for the free programme can purchase a vaccination from their general practitioner or vaccinating pharmacist.

The WDHB fully supports the push to focus this year’s seasonal influenza immunisation programme towards pregnant women and their newborn babies. Healthy, pregnant women are up to 18 times more likely to be admitted to hospital when suffering from influenza, than non-pregnant women. The influenza vaccine can be given at any time during a woman’s pregnancy - there are no safety concerns around this.
For further information go to www.fightflu.co.nz, www.health.govt.nz/influenza, www.immune.org.nz or call 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863).