has taken plenty of knocks in the last six months and health leaders are
encouraging Cantabrians to get vaccinated against the flu to stay strong through
this winter period.
As a New Zealand first, Canterbury
residents aged under 18 years are eligible for free flu vaccine this season.
This shows the Canterbury Health system’s desire to protect our community
against avoidable illnesses.
Canterbury Medical Officer of Health,
Dr Ramon Pink says the flu season has begun in Canterbury with several cases
Damage from the September 4 and
February 22 earthquakes has changed a lot of Cantabrian’s living conditions that
will make them more vulnerable to catching the flu.
“The concern this winter is that
because of the earthquake many of us are living much closer together in more
crowded houses and in improvised office spaces and classrooms, Dr Pink
“Some homes might also be colder this
winter, increasing the impact of flu on people who are more likely to develop
complications. Children are especially vulnerable. There is benefit to both
preschool aged children who are vaccinated and their families. With older school
aged children sharing campuses and buses and good hand hygiene being more
difficult to practice, the flu virus can spread more easily between
“We urge all people living in
Canterbury to think about their families this winter and get vaccinated. A lot
of people may feel a bit run down after the earthquake and the stress that has
resulted. This makes them more prone to getting viruses like the flu. Even if
you had a vaccination last year, you still need to have another one. It takes
two weeks before the vaccination protects you from the flu, so best to get it
done now. All you need to do is make an appointment at your local general
The vaccine is already free to people
aged over 65 years old, those under 65 years with a chronic health condition, as
well as pregnant women.
I heard it was going to be free for everyone?
The Canterbury District Health
Board has carefully considered this option but the Ministry of Health and the
District Health Board has agreed it is most appropriate to concentrate on
providing the vaccine to those most vulnerable. We still encourage everyone to
get a vaccine.
Why has the Canterbury DHB chosen to extend it to those aged
under 18 years?
Evidence suggests those aged
over 65 years and aged under 18 years are most susceptible to influenza. The
vaccine is already free to pregnant women and anyone aged over 65 years, or with
a chronic health. By extending it to those aged under 18 years, it will protect
Canterbury people even more thoroughly. The amount of flu in the community will
be halved if 20 percent of those aged under 18 year olds are vaccinated this
What happens if I’ve already paid to have my under 18 year
The free vaccination programme
is from today April 4 to July 31.
Who is paying for the extra vaccinations for those aged under
The Canterbury District Health
Board is covering the cost of administering vaccinations and the Ministry of
Health is paying for the vaccine.
Why should I get the flu vaccine if it’s not free for me
Many Canterbury businesses offer
the vaccine free to their employees and it is also free to all health care
workers. Cantabrians are encouraged to take up the opportunity to get the
vaccine whatever way it is offered as it’s so important we all try and stay
healthy this winter, particularly given that living conditions for many of us
have changed, increasing the impact of flu and the chances of developing
complications from it. Having the flu vaccine is a smart step towards being
responsible for your own health as well as the health of your
If my family has relocated outside Canterbury, will they
receive a vaccination?
This programme is only available
to those people living in Canterbury.
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