More people now opting for flu jab

HEATHER SIMPSON
Last updated 10:29 22/03/2014

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This year's flu season is predicted to be worse than last year, a nurse specialist in immunisation has said.

GPs started receiving vaccines at the end of February and are rolling out their flu vaccination programmes to patients across Marlborough.

Immunisation co-ordinator at Marlborough Primary Health Organisation Catherine Flanagan said a "particularly slow" flu season in 2013 cemented predictions this year would be more severe.

"Last year we had a mild flu season," she said.

"It is predicted this year it will be more severe based on last year's numbers and evidence from the northern hemisphere."

In the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board area last year, 40,775 doses of fly vaccine were distributed between the start of the season in February and July. It is hoped vaccination numbers will exceed that number this year.

The free jab is targeted at pregnant women, over-65s, and those with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, respiratory problems, cardio vascular disease and cancer.

Ms Flanagan said more people in Marlborough Nelson were getting the jab than ever before.

"The best defence is vaccination. It is extremely important if you or members of your household are vulnerable to the flu. You can be infected one to two days before symptoms develop.

"You should be vaccinated every 12 months because the flu strains change every year. Two new strains are included this year, including swine flu, based on evidence on what prevailed in the northern hemisphere."

People can also purchase flu vaccines for general practices or pharmacies at a cost of between $26 and $35 to be administered by a practice nurse.

Community nurses have been visiting businesses in Blenheim on their request to vaccinate employees.

Staff at Blenheim law firm Gascoigne Wicks received their flu jabs yesterday morning.

Practice manager Kay Nalsund said 16 out of 24 staff at the firm received the jab. The jab was voluntary but 75 per cent of the staff chose to get vaccinated she said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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