Health Minister Tony Ryall today launched the annual influenza immunisation campaign.
Plunket, New Zealand’s largest provider of services to support the health and well-being of children under five is encouraging New Zealanders to take up the government’s offer of free influenza vaccinations.
“New Zealanders tend to underestimate what a serious disease influenza is”, says Plunket Clinical Advisory Manager Karen Magrath.
“It kills around 400 New Zealanders, directly or indirectly, each year – so it’s not something we should take lightly. Last year it put more than a thousand people in hospital.
“Young children and pregnant women are among those at higher risk of developing serious complications from influenza.
“A lot of changes occur in a woman’s body during pregnancy. Changes to lung function, changes to immunity and increased heart output and oxygen consumption place pregnant woman at particularly high risk of severe complications. Pregnant women with other medical conditions are at even greater risk of severe influenza-related illness.
“We strongly advise expectant mum’s to get the free vaccination. Babies under 6 months old are too young to be immunised so if their mums are vaccinated they can pass protection on to their baby”.
The free influenza vaccine is available now until the end of July and is accessible from GPs or nurses.
The vaccination is free to those at greatest risk of serious influenza complications, including New Zealanders over the age of 65, pregnant women, and people with on-going conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart problems.
People who are not eligible for the free vaccine can purchase it from their general practitioner or selected pharmacies.
For more information visit www.fightflu.co.nz or www.health.govt.nz or call 0800 IMMUNE 0800 466 863.
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