Local residents are being urged to get immunised as influenza activity increases in the region.

The number of people confirmed as having influenza has risen in recent weeks.

"Results from our local laboratories show there is significant influenza activity in our area," medical officer of health, Dr Phil Shoemack said.

"It's not too late to get immunised. Pregnant women and those with long term health conditions are at particular risk."

Free immunisation against influenza is available until August 31 for those most at risk of influenza complications, including pregnant women, everyone aged 65 and over, and adults or children with certain chronic medical conditions.

"However, everyone should consider vaccination," Dr Shoemack said.

"Even someone who is fit and healthy can become ill with influenza, and risks passing it to family/whanau and friends who may have serious complications."

"Immunisation along with personal hygiene measures such as regular hand-washing and covering coughs and sneezes are the only ways to protect against influenza. Call your GP or health centre now to make an appointment to get immunised," he said.

Influenza is a potentially serious viral infection that's much worse than a cold. Although some of the symptoms are similar, influenza is usually more severe.

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


Influenza can be severe enough to require hospital treatment, particularly in the very young, elderly, and in people who already have health problems.

Influenza spreads easily and hand hygiene and cough etiquette are effective ways to reduce the spread. As well as getting immunised, you can help protect yourself and your family/whanau from influenza (and other winter illnesses) by:

* Staying at home if you are unwell.
* Covering your cough or sneezing using disposable tissues.
* Regularly washing your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water and drying your hands with a clean dry towel or paper towel.

Influenza will affect up to one in five New Zealanders every year and approximately 400 deaths each year in New Zealand are related to influenza infection.

Contact your GP or local medical centre to get the influenza vaccination.