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Free flu vaccinations at pharmacies a New Zealand first

People 65 years and over have the choice of getting their free flu vaccination at one of 23 pharmacies in the Waikato District Health Board (DHB) region from today (Tuesday 21 April) or from their general practitioner.

Dr Damian Tomic

Dr Damian Tomic

It is a New Zealand first which will reduce the burden on general practice at this busy time of the year, said Dr Damian Tomic, Waikato DHB clinical director for primary care.

“We know from what happened in the northern hemisphere that more elderly people ended up in hospital with pneumonia so here in New Zealand, we wanted to ensure we included protection against the strains that were prevalent there.

“Influenza A H3N2 has been the dominant strain in the northern hemisphere and it’s likely it will come to New Zealand this winter. We know that this strain of influenza hits those aged over 65 the hardest,” said Dr Tomic.

The delay to the start of the 2015 influenza season, it usually starts in March, was because two new strains needed to be added to the vaccine to provide greater protection from flu.

Allowing pharmacists to give the free preventative vaccination came about in Waikato and through national agencies.

Dr Nigel Murray

Dr Nigel Murray

Following this an approach from Waikato DHB’s chief executive Dr Nigel Murray, Dr Tomic and medical officer of health Dr Felicity Dumble to the Midland Community Pharmacy Group established a mechanism for this to occur quickly in time for the forthcoming season.

“The effects of influenza are often underestimated.

Each year around 400 New Zealanders die, directly or indirectly from the influenza.

“Vaccination is your best protection from influenza, and by getting immunised you protect not only yourself but your family and friends,” said Dr Tomic.

Waikato has 56,270 people aged 65 years and over – 8 per cent of them are Maori and just over 1 per cent Pacific people.

Last year, about 68 per cent of the 65 years and over population got their vaccination.

Dr Felicity Dumble

Dr Felicity Dumble

Dr Tomic said the goal this year is to get as many as possible of the people 65 yrs and over vaccinated.

“That’s why getting the pharmacies on board is so critical for us.”

Midland Community Pharmacy Group chief executive Cath Knapton said the DHB had helped pharmacists by providing additional resource so that those immunised each day could be added to the National Immunisation Register.

“We’re very pleased to be able to help our valued 65 year olds and over in this way. This initiative is clearly clinically driven and patient focussed to make it as easy as possible for them to get that protection against flu,” she said.

Below is the list of pharmacies where people 65 years and over can obtain their free flu vaccinations is:

Pharmacies where 65 years and over can get flu vaccinations
Unichem Beerescourt Pharmacy 1365 Victoria Street Hamilton
Anglesea Pharmacy 9 Thackeray Street Hamilton
Comins Pharmacy 67 Victoria Street Cambridge
Life Pharmacy Centre Place Centre Place, 501 Victoria Street Hamilton
Life Pharmacy Chartwell Shop 123, Westfield Chartwell Hamilton
Life Pharmacy The Base Te Awa Mall at The Base, Te Rapa Hamilton
Pharmacy 547 533 Grey Street Hamilton
Unichem Davies Corner Pharmacy 29 Hukanui Road Hamilton
Unichem Grey Street Pharmacy 354 Grey Street Hamilton
Unichem Heather Moore Pharmacy 546 Pollen Street Thames
Unichem Marshalls Pharmacy 156 Teasdale Street Te Awamutu
Unichem Morrinsville Pharmacy 72 Studholme Street Morrinsville
Unichem Rototuna Pharmacy 44 Horsham Downs Road Hamilton
Unichem Te Aroha Pharmacy 189 Whitaker Street Te Aroha
Unichem Te Rapa Pharmacy 26 Bryant Road, Te Rapa Hamilton
Unichem Flagstaff Pharmacy TLC Building, 1158 River Road Hamilton
Life Pharmacy Matamata 54 Arawa Street Matamata
Hillcrest Healthcare Pharmacy 153 Cambridge Road Hamilton
Northcare Pukete Pharmacy 10 Pukete Road Hamilton
Unichem Putaruru 20 Princes Street Putaruru
Unichem Leamington Phamamcy 127 Shakespeare Street Cambridge
Bader Street Pharmacy 5a Bader Street Hamilton
Hamilton East Pharmacy 14 Beale Street Hamilton
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