Beat­ing the win­ter flu bug

CHB Mail - - NEWS -

As some­one with a mas­ter’s de­gree in mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy who com­pleted her the­sis on tu­ber­cu­lo­sis vaccinations, CHB mayor Alex Walker con­sid­ers her­self well in­formed when it comes to the ben­e­fits of the flu jab.

“I see it as re­spon­si­ble de­ci­sion to pro­tect not only my­self, but oth­ers. I have a lot of peo­ple around me — and I have small chil­dren too,” said Ms Walker, who re­ceived her vac­ci­na­tion at Unichem Phar­macy in Waipuku­rau last week.

The mayor got her flu jab as Hawke’s Bay health of­fi­cials launched Beat the Bugs, a cam­paign urg­ing peo­ple to get im­mu­nised now be­fore the win­ter sea­son, to give them­selves the best pro­tec­tion from a flu strain that se­verely af­fected com­mu­ni­ties dur­ing the north­ern hemi­sphere win­ter.

Hawke’s Bay Dis­trict Health Board (HBDHB) in­fec­tious dis­eases physi­cian Dr Andrew Burns said the new up­dated vac­cine cov­ers four strains of flu. It was also bet­ter matched against the Aus­tralian flu strain known as AH3N2, which had caused deaths, hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tions and hospi­tal ad­mis­sions in the north­ern hemi­sphere.

“The best time to get a flu shot is be­fore the start of the win­ter sea­son,” Dr Burns said.

“This win­ter, more than ever, we’re en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to se­ri­ously con­sider get­ting their flu shot to help pro­tect them­selves, their fam­i­lies and loved ones from a flu strain that has se­verely im­pacted com­mu­ni­ties abroad.

“The in­fluenza vac­ci­na­tion does not con­tain ‘live’ strains — the vac­cine al­lows your body to recog­nise the flu strains and build up im­mu­nity against them,” he said.

A sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of peo­ple in­fected with in­fluenza showed no signs or symp­toms and un­know­ingly ex­posed oth­ers, he said.

Unichem Phar­macy owner Charles Nairn said he ex­pected this year’s flu sea­son to be ‘nasty’ given the north­ern hemi­sphere win­ter, where hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion rates in the United States were the high­est in around a decade.

He had al­ready de­liv­ered 400 flu vac­cine doses in CHB this sea­son, more than this time last year. They cost $29 at his phar­macy.

The vac­cine is avail­able at the doc­tor and se­lected phar­ma­cies and is free for preg­nant women, peo­ple aged 65 or older, or peo­ple un­der 65 with chronic health con­di­tions in­clud­ing di­a­betes and most heart or lung con­di­tions, and chil­dren aged four or un­der who have had a stay in hospi­tal for asthma or other breath­ing prob­lems.

The HBDHB’s In­te­gra­tion port­fo­lio man­ager Di Vi­cary said it could take two weeks for the body to build up suf­fi­cient an­ti­bod­ies to make the jab ef­fec­tive, so now was the best time to re­ceive it.

■ For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.fight­flu.co.nz or www.ourhealthhb.nz

PHOTO: CLIN­TON LLEWELLYN

IM­MU­NISED: Unichem Phar­macy owner Charles Nairn giv­ing CHB mayor Alex Walker her flu jab last week, as Di Vi­cary from the Hawke’s Bay Dis­trict Health Board watches wear­ing a Beat the Bugs t-shirt.

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