Whanganui DHB encourages residents to have flu vaccination


February 2018

Keep well this winter – get a flu shot now, is the catch cry from the national Immunization Advisory Centre and the Whanganui DHB where currently, doctors are the professional group with the highest number of staff vaccinated against the flu.

“The fact that nurses and allied health staff are not far behind them shows how serious our clinical staff are about not catching the flu and passing it on to their family members, friends, colleagues and patients,” says WDHB infection prevention & control clinical nurse specialist Jacquie Pennefather.

Mrs Pennefather says Whanganui Hospital is on track to achieving its highest flu vaccination rate to date – a result she would love to see being matched out in the community.

“Autumn is the best time for people to get their annual flu shot or vaccination,” Mrs Pennefather says. “Getting it then protects you before the flu season strikes and it’s worth seeing if you or your family/whānau, might qualify for a free flu shot.”

Flu vaccinations are free from a doctor, nurse or qualified vaccinating pharmacist from March till the end of December, for those who are:

  • aged 65 years or over
  • pregnant – no matter what their stage of pregnancy
  • 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
  • a child aged four and under who has been hospitalised for respiratory illness or has a history of significant respiratory illness.

People who don’t qualify for a free vaccination from a doctor or nurse may still be able to get one free from their employer. And flu vaccinations are available from a doctor, nurse or some pharmacists for a fee.

It is worth noting that flu vaccinations from a practice nurse or doctor are free for people with an ongoing health problem. However, if a person has a consultation or check-up with their doctor at the same time, a consultation fee may apply.

Mrs Pennefather says research shows a person can infect others with the flu virus even when they’re not showing symptoms themselves. “So, by being immunised, you can help avoid passing the virus on to others close to you.”

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

Because the influenza vaccine is a prescription medicine, people are advised to talk their doctor or nurse about the benefits and possible risks. To find out whether you qualify for free flu vaccination go to www.fightflu.co.nz or call 0800 IMMUNE 0800 466 863.