To be clear, the influenza vaccine does not protect you against coronavirus, but at a time we need to reduce the pressure on the healthcare system, it is vital that we protect ourselves and each other by vaccinating against the flu.
Flu vaccinations are now open for those most at risk. If you are over 65 years or pregnant or have certain chronic conditions you are eligible to have your flu vaccination in pharmacies. Young children with a history of severe respiratory illness are eligible to have a vaccination through their doctor. Vaccinating for the general public starts on 20th April 2020. If you still need reasons to have your flu shot, here’s three:
1. Having the flu can make you feel awful
If you are unlucky enough to get the flu (influenza), you may experience a blocked nose, temperatures, headaches, extreme tiredness and aching limbs. Occasionally the flu is complicated by a bacterial infection which can be very serious and require hospital treatment. Even if you avoid this, influenza can keep you in bed for a week or more, preventing you from doing the things you need and love to do.
2. The odds aren’t great
Up to 20% of New Zealanders are infected with influenza each year, some will just carry the infection and not feel sick, others end up in hospital and 1.8% of New Zealanders die.
3. Together we're protected
80% of people who catch the flu won’t have symptoms, unaware that they are spreading the infection to others, some who are vulnerable. Preventing influenza is a job for the whole community. By vaccinating yourself, you lessen the chance of bringing influenza home to a baby, elderly relative or someone with a medical condition, therefore protecting those in our community who are most at risk from complications.
What is the flu vaccine?
The flu vaccine is an inactivated form of the virus given to trigger your body to build immunity to it so if you are exposed again, then you can fight it off quickly and without significant symptoms. As the flu virus mutates every year and protection lessens over time it is important to have vaccine administered annually.
If you are unlucky enough to suffer with a cold or flu, practising good hygiene is important to prevent the spread of the infection. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and sneezing and put your used tissue in the bin. Remember to wash your hands after coughing or sneezing with warm soapy water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
Edit: Our 2020 stock of flu vaccinations has unfortunately now run out. We're hoping to get more in if they become available again. In the meantime, bookings have been suspended.