Protect your family/whanau from flu this winter


27 March 2018

2018 Flu SeasonWhanganui District Health Board (WDHB) and the Immunisation Advisory Centre are advising people to start thinking about flu immunisations which remain the best way to protect family/whanau from influenza or the ‘flu’ this winter.

Flu vaccine will be arriving in surgeries and participating pharmacies in April which is the best month for people to get their annual flu shots to ensure they’re protected before flu season strikes in winter.

This year’s vaccines are expected to offer protection against the strain circulating in the Northern Hemisphere during their winter season which some media have been calling the ‘Aussie flu’. To better match circulating viruses, the two funded quadrivalent influenza vaccines will contain four inactivated virus strains, specially formulated for the New Zealand 2018 season.

It is important to note that because there are no live viruses in the vaccine, people can’t get flu from the vaccine.

Where can I get a flu shot?

Flu immunisation from your doctor, nurse or qualified vaccinating pharmacist is free for Whanganui district residents from April till the end of December, if you’re in one of these groups:

  • Anyone aged 65 years or over
  • Pregnant women (any stage of pregnancy).
  • People under 65 years of age (including children) with long-term health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease (including asthma that requires regular preventive therapy), kidney disease and most cancers
  • Children aged four and under who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness.

Some employers provide their staff with free immunisation otherwise they are available from a doctor, nurse or some pharmacists for a fee.

How easy is it to catch flu?

The influenza virus can be anywhere. It is easy to catch through coughs and sneezes and by touching some surfaces. Being fit and healthy won’t stop you getting the flu.

Around one in four New Zealanders are infected with flu each year. Many people won’t feel sick at all but can still pass it on to others.

Flu viruses are mostly spread by droplets when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. That’s why it’s important to try and keep several metres from others when you are unwell to reduce the spread of the virus.

The elderly and very young children can become very ill with flu.

Is flu a serious illness?

Flu is not the same as a cold. It’s a serious disease that can also make other existing conditions, such as breathing or heart problems, even worse, with some people ending up in hospital and some dying.

Influenza usually has symptoms such as a sudden onset of illness, high fever, headache, a dry cough and illness which usually lasts seven to 10 days.

Older people, pregnant women and their babies and people with certain medical conditions are more likely to have medical complications from influenza.

Influenza in pregnancy increases the risks of premature birth, low birth weight, miscarriage, stillbirth or birth defects.

Annual influenza immunisation helps reduce these risks.

Does the flu shot work?

For many people, fly shots help them prevent flu or have a less severe illness. However, like all vaccines, influenza vaccine is not 100 percent effective in everyone. Effectiveness depends on several factors, including the age and immune status of the recipient, as well as the match between circulating vaccine strains and the vaccine.

Influenza immunisation only works on the flu virus. Sometimes people say they got the flu from the vaccine when it was more likely they caught a cold or other respiratory virus, or the vaccine didn’t have time to work before they became infected with the virus. It can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to start providing protection.

Other helpful tips

As well as getting an influenza shot you can protect yourself and your family/ whānau from influenza if you:

  • Wash and dry your hands often
  • Stay away from people who are sick
  • Stay away from work, school or visiting people in hospital if you’re unwell
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.

The influenza vaccine is a prescription medicine. Talk to your doctor or nurse about the benefits and possible risks. Check out to find out whether you qualify for free flu immunisation or call 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863).