Flu jabs on rise as virus strikes
More Nelsonians are getting the jab to protect themselves against the flu.
Nelson Bays Primary Health Organisation chief executive Andrew Swanson-Dobbs said there had been a noticeable increase in immunisation vaccine requests at GPs' surgeries across the region in the past two weeks.
GPs had been ordering extra stock to keep up with the demand, he said.
Nelson-Marlborough medical officer of health Jill Sherwood said this week that the influenza virus currently going around was serious.
"This is a particularly serious influenza virus, with greater numbers of hospitalisations for influenza than we saw during the 2009 swine flu."
GP spokesman Graham Loveridge said he had noticed an increase in both the number of people requesting immunisation, and those coming in with flu symptoms.
"Adults have realised their fit and healthy friends are becoming sick - being otherwise healthy is no protection against getting the flu." Some people who had come into the practice were quite unwell, he said, with high fevers, headaches and some were unable to get out of bed.
He encouraged people to get their immunisations, and emphasised that those people who feel like they have flu-like symptoms should stay at home.
"It's not loyal or brave, it's just spreading it, and no-one will will thank you for it."
Nelson Medical and Injury Centre practice manager Diane Wirren said the flow of patients had been steady, but not frantic.
"I wouldn't say it was higher than other years. It's what you expect at this time of year."
Weekends had been busy, however, she said.
Information collated by the Community and Public Health (C&PH) Surveillance Unit for surveillance of influenza-like illness also show Nelson-Marlborough in line with last year's figures.
The region's other medical officer of health, Ed Kiddle, said feedback he had received from the DHB had shown that Nelson Hospital was experiencing high levels of respiratory admission.
However, that had not been specifically broken down to differentiate between bacterial afflictions such as pneumonia, and viral, including influenza.
Schools around the region did not report a particular increase in the number of sick staff or students.
Nelson Intermediate School principal Hugh Gully said there had been a "wee spike upwards" but not an epidemic.
"[We've] probably have had three teachers away over a two-week period, and about the usual number of students for this time of year."
Nelson Central School principal Paul Potaka said the school had been sending home advice notices from the district health board concerning gastroenteritis in case it was relevant for people. On any given day there would be about 7 per cent of students away with flu or gastro-type illness, he said.
Health Minister Tony Ryall announced last week that the free influenza immunisation for people aged over 65 years and those with some medical conditions had been extended till the end of this month.
Dr Loveridge said it cost about $25 for people to get immunised at the GP.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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