A sudden increase in the number of influenza-like-illness and corresponding influenza A cases has led to the Waikato District Health Board’s medical officer of health urging residents to get their vaccination.
“Influenza season has started in Waikato, with a number of our general practices and hospitals treating people for influenza-like-illnesses and respiratory infections,” said Dr Anita Bell.
“The only way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to get vaccinated.”
“For those most at risk the vaccine is available for free, so check with your doctor,” said Bell.
Influenza is a potentially serious viral infection that’s much worse than a cold. Although some of the symptoms are the same, influenza is usually much more severe.
“Influenza can be severe enough to require hospital treatment, particularly in the very young, elderly, and in people who already have health problems,” said Bell.
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.
The virus spreads easily and hand hygiene and cough etiquette are effective ways to reduce the spread, but the vaccine remains the most proven way to ward of the flu.
If you feel unwell you can help reduce the spread of the virus by:
Staying at home if you are unwell.
Covering your cough or sneeze using disposable tissues.
Regularly washing your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water, and then dry your hands with a clean dry towel or paper towel.
Contact your GP or local medical centre to get the influenza vaccine. Further information on general hygiene and influenza can be found at:
0800 IMMUNE – 0800 466 863
Healthline – 0800 611 116