The colder, damper weather signals it's time again to get your flu vaccine and give yourself your best shot of staying well this winter.
Each year the Canterbury Health System encourages people to get their flu shot early, before this serious illness starts to get a grip on our communities.
Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ramon Pink says it's important everyone gets immunised as soon as possible to stay healthy and well.
"Getting your flu shot is still your best protection against influenza, and by being immunised, you increase your chances of getting the flu and can't pass it on to others. Getting your flu shot helps protect you, your whānau and your community too."
Dr Pink says influenza is not just a bad cold, it is a serious illness that will confine you to bed for a miserable week or more, incapable of doing very much at all.
"All too often though, influenza can lead to hospitalisation, especially for those who are vulnerable - people with a chronic illness or an elderly person. Each year hundreds of New Zealanders die from flu-related illness."
Dr Pink says the flu shot is available now and it's best to get it early because it takes about fortnight for the immune system to prepare its best defence after getting vaccinated.
"You shouldn't wait until influenza is making others sick. It also makes sense to go for your flu shot when most general practices are less busy with patients presenting with winter illnesses," Dr Pink says.
The flu vaccine is free from your General Practice team for anyone aged 65 years or over, people with a chronic illness, such as asthma or a heart condition, and pregnant women. The Canterbury Health System has also extended free flu shots to under 18s enrolled in General Practices in the Hurunui and Kaikoura districts to help support those North Canterbury communities affected by the earthquakes to stay well.
"The vaccine is also available to everyone else at a cost similar to a GP visit. Most people who have had influenza before will tell you that even if you have to pay for your vaccine, it's a small price to avoid becoming severely unwell."
Anyone new to Canterbury needs to enrol at a General Practice to be eligible for subsidised health care in New Zealand.
"If you are feeling unwell, you should seek advice early from your General Practice team, but you need to be enrolled to make the most of the services on offer, at a lower cost," Dr Pink says.
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