Three in ICU with severe flu symptoms

AMANDA PARKINSON AND COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 28/05/2014

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The Southern District Health Board has confirmed that three patients have been admitted to intensive care at Southland Hospital with severe flu symptoms.

Southern healthcare workers are lining up to be vaccinated to protect patients from the deadly influenza virus.

Board figures show 2393 staff and 584 contractors have been vaccinated so far this year.

Health bosses hope to hit a record with staff vaccinations this year. Last year, 53 per cent of staff were vaccinated, with the board hoping to hit 60 per cent this winter.

The latest figures come after the issue of staff resistance was discussed at a health board meeting earlier this month following a report that said there had initially been a slow response from staff to the board's influenza campaign.

Health Board chairman Joe Butterfield said at the meeting the hospital had to keep trying to reach their target and joked "perhaps we need to line them up like [drenched] sheep".

Public Health South physician Dr Keith Reid said the vaccination message to staff was that delivering healthcare relied on teamwork.

"We have also had a number of pregnant staff getting vaccinated who have been referred by their midwife," he said.

However, Southern DHB occupational health and safety nurse co-ordinator Yvonne Stewart said some staff had chosen not to be vaccinated.

"There are lots of reasons why people don't get vaccinated; some are actually allergic to products in the vaccine, others just don't want to because of their own beliefs and some despite giving needles, are just scared of receiving them," she said.

The board is also considering adopting Auckland DHB's influenza strategy to have all staff vaccinated.

Auckland District Health Board occupational, health and safety manager Denise Johnson said along with the strategy they also introduced a guideline that unvaccinated staff had to wear masks during an influenza epidemic. This meant in the first six weeks of its vaccination campaign, 60 per cent of staff were immunised.

To vaccinate or not?

The issue of whether to get the flu vaccine has been a hot topic lately, so The Southland Times took to Facebook to find out what readers thought. Here's what they said:

Pam Henderson: "Old saying - Prevention is better than cure."

Anita Hayman: "Not a fan of any vaccines. I think you need to read all the pros and cons before putting them into your system. It's a personal choice for everyone."

Kerri Perwick: "I was going to but $37 is too expensive. My husband gets them for free, being asthmatic."

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Kristy Michelle: "First time ever getting it this year, although was free [because I am] pregnant, but I would definitely look at getting it every year."

Jessica-Williams and Wayne-Simpson: "Healthy diet is best prevention. My family and I do not get the flu shot and we hardly get sick. It seems that people we know that get the shot get sick more often."

Lorraine Clement: "Been offered a free one because of my health history; I am good without it!"

MAIN VIRUS: Similar to the North American strain but has been less severe in New Zealand.

Signs and symptoms:

Fever (a temperature of 38degC or higher)

Body aches

Stomach upset, vomiting or diarrhoea

Headache

Chills

Cough

Sore throat

Runny or stuffy nose

It may take up to three days to feel symptoms after you catch influenza.

The worst symptoms usually last about five days, but coughing can last up to two to three weeks

Source: Ministry of Health

THE VACCINE

The influenza vaccine is free for New Zealanders at high risk of complications – pregnant women, people aged 65 and over, and people of any age with long-term health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease (including serious asthma), kidney disease and most cancers.

Source: Public Health South

- The Southland Times

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