Influenza awareness in the Southern Lakes is getting a shot
in the arm from the Southern District Health Board.
Lakes residents are being urged to protect themselves by
getting vaccinated against the highly infectious respiratory
illness before the annual influx of international visitors
arrives for the winter ski season.
General practices and schools in the Southern DHB catchment
had reported an increase in cases of flu-like illnesses
throughout the lower South Island in late July last year.
Teenagers and young adults were the age group most affected.
The Southern DHB expected a higher-than-usual rate of
hospital admissions from influenza in New Zealand this year,
based on reports of influenza incidence and severity in the
There was a different strain of flu every year and those who
had an injection years ago might not be covered for the
The flu vaccine was now available on request at general
practices and for qualifying residents there was no charge.
Queenstown Medical Centre charged $20 to $30 and the Wakatipu
Medical Centre charged $30 for an influenza injection for
people who did not meet criteria for free vaccinations.
Dr Keith Reid, Medical Officer of Health for the Southern
DHB, said residents needed to remember the flu was not just a
bad cold, but for some ''a serious illness that can result in
people being hospitalised, and even dying''.
''Even if it does not affect you that badly, you can still
expect to spend up to a week in bed, preventing you from
working, or realistically, doing any activity that requires
you to leave the house.''
Dr Reid said vaccination was also now recommended to women at
any stage of pregnancy.
''We know that women who are pregnant are particularly
vulnerable to the influenza virus and are as much as 13 times
more likely to end up in hospital as a result of the flu.''
Employers were encouraged to support vaccinations for
employees as it could help keep staff healthy, reduce the
number of days people were off sick with the flu, and help
prevent the spread of flu through the workplace.
Offering free or subsidised vaccinations at work was one way
employers could support staff and look after their
businesses, Dr Reid said.
Free for some
The flu vaccination is free if you meet any of the
• Being over 65
• Being under 65, but suffering from a medical
condition such as asthma, breathing difficulties, diabetes,
heart disease, most cancers
• Being pregnant
To get vaccinated, to find out more if you are eligible for a
free vaccination, or for more information, talk to your
family doctor or practice nurse, visit www.fightflu.co.nz.