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Get ready - flu season is just around the corner


tawera-kerr-barlow.jpg

Chiefs player Tawera Kerr-Barlow gets his flu jab from Hamilton East Medical Centre.

Even the fittest and healthiest of us can get influenza and should be vaccinated against the flu.

That's the message from Pinnacle Midlands Health Network medical director Dr Jo Scott-Jones who is urging the Hamilton community to be proactive and protect themselves from the flu this season.

Dr Scott-Jones says the flu vaccine is now available and that it's important to vaccinate as soon as possible to prevent a hospital stay, week in bed, or from doing anything really that involves leaving the house.

"Around one in four New Zealanders are infected with the flu each year. The flu can really knock you; it can even be fatal," he said.

Some people will experience moderate to severe symptoms, while others many not feel very sick at all.

"A simple flu jab will protect you and reduce the risk of you passing it onto an older family member, baby or someone else with a medical condition with a compromised immune system."

In an effort to reduce sick days at work and keep staff well, some workplaces in Hamilton have organised for a workplace vaccinator or local GP to come and provide free vaccinations for staff.

"A workplace vaccinator can come onto work premises to administer the vaccine with minimal interruption to productivity. Often they can be scheduled to work in with company's needs such as shift work timetables.

"New Zealand's national influenza website has great information about how to find a workplace vaccinator in the Waikato. Visit www.fightflu.co.nz/vaccination-at-work for an up to date list."

Dr Scott-Jones said it takes up to two weeks to develop immunity to influenza after vaccination.  Ideally, people should be vaccinated before the main influenza activity in May to September. 

A flu jab is available at general practices and some pharmacies for a small cost. For those over 65 or in a high-risk group, it will be free.

Dr Scott-Jones said it is important to that no one across Pinnacle Midlands Health Network's operating area misses out on the opportunity to protect themselves against this "life threatening disease".

"We urge you to get your own vaccination as soon as possible, and to encourage your workplace to consider offering vaccinations for staff."

To contact your nearest Pinnacle Midlands Health Network general practice visit www.itsmyhealth.co.nz

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