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Jab ... Gore Health quality improvement manager Glenda Maxwell gives hospital chief executive Karl Metzler his influenza injection on Wednesday. PHOTO:SANDY EGGLESTON

With the H3N2 virus already in the South, health professionals are saying now is a great time for people to book in for their annual influenza shot.

The influenza vaccine comprised four strains of virus that caused ill-health in the northern hemisphere last year.

Gore Health quality improvement manager Glenda Maxwell said people had already been diagnosed with H3N2, one of the strains of influenza that had spread to New Zealand as people returned from overseas.

“We’re really recommending people get their influenza vaccines now and don’t delay,” Mrs Maxwell said.

Influenza – flu – should not be confused with the common cold.

“Influenza is debilitating.

“It stops you in your tracks and the potential for complications is quite significant.”

Vaccination protected individuals as well as those they came into contact with who might be more vulnerable to the flu.

“Our vulnerable are our elderly, people with chronic medical conditions and young children.

“The Ministry of Health is also recommending pregnant women have the vaccine.”

Vaccinations had been available at GP practices since April 1.

“Clinic times are being advertised in The Ensign.

Gore Health practice nurse Keri Young said the flu vaccine did not give people the flu.

“It produces the antibodies to protect you against the virus,” Mrs Young said.

Key messages

  • Immunisation is the best protection against influenza.
  • Even if you catch influenza after immunisation, your symptoms are less likely to be severe.
  • Get immunised to stop the spread of influenza around your community.
  • Even if you do not feel sick you could still be infected with influenza and pass it on to others.
  • Having an influenza vaccination every year can keep older people healthy and active for longer.
  • Influenza immunisation during pregnancy helps protect the woman and her baby against influenza.

Free influenza immunisations available for: 

  • Pregnant women.
  • People aged 65 years or older.
  • People under 65 years old who have diabetes, most heart or lung conditions and some other illnesses.
  • Children aged 4 years old and under who have stayed in hospital for asthma or other breathing problems.