Wednesday July 8, 2015
Bay of Plenty residents are being urged to get immunised as the region is hit by the highest influenza rates in the country.
General practice consultations for influenza-like illnesses have risen sharply in recent weeks, with local hospitals also seeing large numbers of patients with influenza and other chest infections.
“It’s not too late to get immunised,” says Medical Officer of Health, Dr Jim Miller, who added those with health issues or pregnant women were at particular risk.
“Immunisation is free for those most at risk until 31 July, so call your GP or health centre now. Immunisation is the best protection from influenza, and the best defence in preventing the spread of the illness.”
“The Bay of Plenty region seems to have been affected earlier this year than other parts of the country,” added Dr Miller. “The national influenza surveillance system shows relatively high consultation rates in our region so we are monitoring the situation closely.”
Influenza is a potentially serious viral infection that’s much worse than a cold. Although some of the symptoms are the same, influenza is usually much more severe. Symptoms of influenza include a cough, headache, fever or chills, body aches and pains, fatigue, and generally feeling really miserable. As if that wasn’t bad enough, influenza can be severe enough to require hospital treatment, particularly in the very young, elderly, and in people who already have health problems.
Those most at risk are eligible for free influenza immunisation, and include adults and children with long-term health conditions, pregnant women, and people aged 65 years and older.
“However everyone should consider vaccination,” says Dr Miller. “Even someone who is fit and healthy can become ill with influenza, and risks passing it to family/whānau and friends who may have serious complications.”
Influenza spreads easily and hand hygiene and cough etiquette are effective ways to reduce the spread. As well as getting immunised, you can help protect yourself and your family/whānau from influenza (and other winter illnesses) by:
- Staying at home if you are unwell.
- Covering your cough or sneezing using disposable tissues.
- Regularly washing your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water and drying your hands with a clean dry towel or paper towel.
Influenza will affect up to one in five New Zealanders every year and approximately 400 deaths each year in New Zealand are related to influenza infection.
Contact your GP or local medical centre to get the influenza vaccination. Further information on general hygiene and influenza can be found at:
- 0800 IMMUNE - 0800 466 863
- Healthline - 0800 611 116