Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ strongly advises people with a respiratory illness to get their free influenza vaccination from March onwards. It is best to get vaccinated before the start of the winter season, before influenza enters the community.
The free flu vaccine is available to all people 65 years of age and over, and people under 65 who have asthma and on regular preventative therapy, or have a chronic respiratory disease with impaired lung function. It is also free for children aged four years and under who have significant respiratory illness.
People with long term respiratory conditions such as asthma are at high risk of complications from flu, even if their symptoms are mild or well-controlled by medication. Complications include pneumonia, heart failure and worsening asthma symptoms.
“The flu is a very serious illness that can result in hospitalisation or death, even for young and healthy people,” says spokesperson for the Foundation, Dr Matire Harwood.
“Approximately one in four Kiwis are infected with influenza every year. A lot won’t feel sick at all, but can still pass it on to others. Getting the flu vaccination well before winter offers you and others the best protection.”
It’s important for the flu vaccination to be done every year as protection lessons over time. Additionally there is one new influenza strain in the 2017 vaccine that was not included in the 2016 vaccine.
Free flu vaccinations are available until 31 December from your GP and some pharmacies.