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Importance of influenza vaccination can’t be overstated

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General practice teams are urging members of the public to book in for their influenza vaccination if they haven’t already.

​Winter is coming, and with it comes the worst of the influenza season. As the vaccine takes two weeks to be fully effective, people should be having their vaccination as soon as possible. As always, the vaccine is crucial to protect the vulnerable in our communities, including the elderly, the pregnant, babies, and those with compromised immune systems. Getting the vaccine helps reduce the spread of the virus, and makes it less likely that anyone will get the illness.

Of course, while the vulnerable are those who need the most protection, anyone can be hit hard by influenza. There are many myths surrounding influenza which Dr Bruce Stewart, a Feilding GP and Chair of the Central PHO, is keen to clear up.

He said: “Many people say that they had the vaccine and got the flu anyway, when in reality they have a cold, which is a completely different virus. Influenza will leave most people bed bound for around a week, and can result in a hospital stay. It’s important to remember that you can’t get influenza from the vaccine, and if you do get sick soon after, then the virus would have already been in your system beforehand. It also makes no difference if you’re fit and healthy; the flu will still have a serious impact on your wellbeing.”

“People should also know that it’s not a matter of isolating themselves once they begin showing symptoms. By the time symptoms appear, you could have already spread the virus to anyone you had contact with in the previous day or two.”

Dr Stewart is heavily involved in promoting the influenza vaccination, and has a starring role on a billboard that has gone up on the corner of Rangitikei and Cuba Streets in Palmerston North.

He said: “I know photos like that on the billboard can seem to be a setup, but that really is one of my fantastic practice nurses giving me my influenza vaccination. As a doctor, one of the best things I can do to protect my patients is to get the vaccination, and I urge everyone else to make the same decision, if not for themselves, then for the sake of family, friends, co-workers, and anyone else they come into contact with.”

General practice teams have been putting in a lot of effort to make it easier for their communities to get the vaccination. One particularly good example was Otaki Medical Centre who got doctors and nurses in to run a flu clinic from 2-6pm. In this short time they administered 400 vaccines. General practice teams are keen to help everyone get vaccinated, so if you haven’t had yours already, make sure to contact them today to book your appointment.

Contact: Communications Unit (06) 350-8945

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