Free jabs help fight dangerous winter flu
Porirua residents have been urged to get themselves immunised against the flu.
The Government’s national influenza immunisation campaign was launched at the Porirua Union Health Centre in Cannons Creek on March 6.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman was first to get vaccinated.
He said Porirua was an ideal place to launch such an important campaign.
‘‘There is a community diabetes clinic here,’’ he said. ‘‘We want those with chronic illnesses to get vaccinated, so it’s a good place to promote that message.’’
The flu vaccination is free until the end of July for over 65s, pregnant women, diabetics and those with some other health problems.
Immunisation Advisory Centre clinical spokeswoman Dr Nikki Turner said Porirua was a high needs area and it was important for anyone with an underlying health issue to get immunised.
‘‘We estimate about 400 a year die [from the flu] in New Zealand and a lot of them have underlying conditions which get exacerbated,’’ she said.
‘‘Your underlying conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, people with chronic lung disease – it gets worse.’’
Pregnant women should get the vaccine to protect both themselves and their babies, because children under six months cannot be vaccinated.
It was also important for noneligible people to get themselves vaccinated, she said.
Type 2 diabetic Faye Maene is a flu immunisation veteran.
‘‘I’ve never had any complications with the vaccination,’’ she said.
‘‘If I’m talking with friends, I say to them, ‘So have you had yours done?’ And ‘Why not?’’’ Coleman said the influenza immunisation was a $20 million programme.
Last year 1.2 million New Zealanders were vaccinated and he hoped to hit that target again.
The 2016 vaccination includes two new strains based on recommendations from the World Health Organisation. To find out if you are eligible for free immunisation visit your local medical practice or pharmacy or go to fightflu.co.nz.
Porirua nurse Litia Manuaiaia Palefoti-Gibson gives Health Minister Jonathan Coleman his flu jab.