Push for more flu jabs in Bay (+poll)

Bay health officials want to increase the number of flu jabs ahead of winter.

Last year 47,671 vaccinations were administered in the Bay of Plenty health board region, but officials hope to boost the number this year.

The 2013 national influenza immunisation campaign was launched this week with a goal of immunising 20 per cent more people than last year.

Influenza (the flu), can be a serious illness and is sometimes fatal. While a person's general health affects the severity of infection, the virus is contagious and anyone can become infected.

Bay businesses are bracing for a busy flu season by offering free immunisations to reduce staff absenteeism.

Tauranga City Council introduced the first round of flu vaccinations for this year on Tuesday, with 80 staff having the jab.

Another round was planned for today.

Last year there were 128 staff who received the vaccination. Usually, 20 to 25 per cent of staff take up the offer.

Bay Occupational Health Consultancy provides immunisations to businesses and is preparing for a busy flu season, which runs May to September.

Vaccinator Lyn Morris said employers usually covered the cost because they saw it as a benefit.

"Somebody who contracts the flu can be off work for quite a while recovering," Ms Morris said.

"We've got a lot of good [businesses] in the Bay who are prepared to cover that cost for their employees which is great."

Immunisation costs were much less than having staff off sick, Ms Morris said.

Workers suffering the flu could be off work for a week and may not feel 100 per cent for a number of weeks. Although some influenza symptoms are the same as a bad cold, the virus is usually much more severe.

Symptoms include a cough, headache, fever or chills, body aches and pains, fatigue and generally feeling miserable.

Immunisation is free for adults and children with long-term health conditions, pregnant women and people aged 65 and older. The virus can infect up to one in five people annually and spreads from person to person through breathing, coughing and sneezing.

The 2013 Southern Hemisphere influenza vaccine includes two new strains based upon recommendations from the World Health Organisation.

It takes about two weeks to develop immunity once vaccinated. Vaccines are available from general practices, accident and medical centres, workplace occupational health service vaccinators and some pharmacies.



Influenza - blow by blow:

  • 47,671 vaccinations administered in Bay of Plenty health board region in 2012.

  • 50,000 sought help from their doctor in NZ last year.

  • 1000 were hospitalised.

  • 400 deaths annually.

  • 1 million vaccinated in 2012.

What do you think?

Are flu jabs worth it or not? Email your views to editor@bayofplentytimes.co.nz. Include your name. Responses may be published.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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