Lollipops for the bravest Highlanders

Highlanders winger Patrick Osborne gets a flu vaccination from Stephanie Pomfret at Dunedin...
Highlanders winger Patrick Osborne gets a flu vaccination from Stephanie Pomfret at Dunedin Hospital yesterday. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.

Only the brave of the ''walking wounded'' Highlanders had a flu jab at Dunedin Hospital yesterday.

Highlanders fullback Kurt Baker said he was ''too scared'' to be vaccinated.

''I'm not the biggest fan of needles.''

First five-eighth Hayden Parker warned winger Patrick Osborne about the vaccination technique of Southern District Health Board occupational health and safety manager Stephanie Pomfret.

''Watch out - she's ruthless,'' he said rubbing his shoulder. Osborne said he had injections before and had never cried.

As a 7-year-old in Fiji, he was the only pupil to hold back the tears at a class vaccination, he said.

Mrs Pomfret doubted the 105kg winger's bravado.

''Don't faint on me,'' she said.

''I don't want seven foot of hulky big male on my floor.''

After the injection, Osborne limped away, rubbing his shoulder, sucking a red lollipop, his right foot in a moon boot from a high ankle sprain from last weekend's game.

Southern District Health Board chief executive Carole Heatly welcomed the ''walking wounded'' to the Dunedin Hospital in front of about 20 staff.

Public Health physician Dr Keith Reid said more SDHB staff should get the flu jab to ensure a healthy squad.

Last year, 53% of SDHB staff were vaccinated - the first time more than half of staff were vaccinated, he said.

In the United States, more than 90% of hospital staff had the vaccination.

''I think that is where we need to be.''

The board aimed for more than 60% of staff to have the free vaccination this year.

The vaccine against the highly contagious infection is free to New Zealanders at high risk of complications - pregnant women, people with long-term health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease, kidney disease and most cancers and people aged 65 and older.

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