Hamilton councillor Siggi Henry questions free flu jabs for staffers

Hamilton City Councillor Siggi Henry wants council staff to pay for their own vaccinations.
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/FAIRFAX NZ

Hamilton City Councillor Siggi Henry wants council staff to pay for their own vaccinations.

Free flu shots for Hamilton council staffers don't impress one elected member, but the organisation is sticking to medical advice in its fight against the winter bug. 

Hamilton City councillor Siggi Henry said ratepayers shouldn't pay for staffers to get the vaccinations, 

"I have to pay for my own Vitamin C, echinacea and garlic to boost my immune system to keep the flu away," she said.

"So why should I pay through my rates for a flu jab for others?"

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Henry, known for her anti-fluoride stance, also pitched a council-specific review of the flu shot at Tuesday's audit and risk committee meeting.

"Can you track the people who had it and then check afterwards whether they actually are getting the flu?" she said.

Chief executive Richard Briggs said no, because council doesn't have the "bandwidth" for that kind of work.

The vaccine is about 73 per cent effective in stopping healthy adults under 65 getting infected with influenza A and B, according to Fight the Flu, a Ministry of Health and Immunisation Advisory Centre site.

That's provided the jab is a good match with the flu strains doing the rounds.

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Hamilton City Council offers the jab based on Ministry of Health advice, Briggs said, and will continue until the advice changes.

"We believe, based on the advice from the ministry, .... the benefit is far greater than the cost."

Henry said she'd seen many people get sick after the injection, which prompted other councillors at the meeting to chip in.

"If it's any help, I didn't get it (the vaccination) and I've got the flu," Mayor Andrew King said.

The jab helped Councillor Dave Macpherson in 2017 but not last year, he said.

"It's worked for me every year," Councillor Rob Pascoe said.

Speaking after the meeting, Henry said council could offer the vaccine but it should be self-funded.

Just as with fluoride, she doesn't trust Ministry of Health recommendations, she said.

The vaccine does not contain live viruses and can not give people the flu, according to Fight the Flu.

However, some people feel unwell for a day or two after they get it, and it takes up to two weeks for the vaccine to start protecting someone.

 - Stuff

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