Free flu shots for under 18s in Kaikoura and Hurunui

Thursday 19 April 2018Media release3 minutes to read

Families in the Hurunui and Kaikōura districts can once again ensure their children have the best protection available against the flu this winter – and it won't cost a cent!

Young people from six months to 17 years of age living in the Kaikōura and Hurunui areas (within the Canterbury District Health Board) can receive free flu shots.

The flu vaccine is now in General Practices so people should call their local General Practice team to book in their flu shot. It's important to get your annual flu shot or immunisation as soon as possible so you're protected before flu season strikes. Other members of your family/whānau may even qualify for a free flu shot – it pays to ask.

Canterbury District Health Board Medical Officer of Health Dr Ramon Pink says the flu is much worse than a common cold.

“It is a very serious illness, that can't just be ‘shaken off'. It's been a severe flu season in the Northern Hemisphere, a possible predictor of what we may see in our winter. It's so important that people get vaccinated – not just to protect themselves but also prevent them from passing it on to whānau, friends and workmates.”

In the US, influenza has caused over 28,000 hospitalisations and 151 paediatric deaths in the 2017-2018 season. In New Zealand, flu-related illnesses cause 400 deaths a year and account for 45 percent of illness days each winter in New Zealand, Fightflu figures show.

This year's vaccines have been developed to offer protection against the strain circulating in the Northern Hemisphere winter.

Influenza infection rates are generally highest in children and healthy children are the major cause of the spread of the virus in the community. Around 80 percent of people infected show no symptoms so you can spread the flu bug without knowing you have it – and the elderly, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions are particularly vulnerable.

“As we're seeing at the moment in the South Island with the spread of the measles virus, it is much better to protect yourself from contagious illnesses by getting vaccinated than dealing with the stress and hardship of getting sick.”

Canterbury District Health Board is urging people to protect their whānau and the wider community by getting their flu shots now. Getting your flu vaccination every year offers the best protection against the flu.

Even if you don't qualify for free immunisation, you may still be able to get one for free from your employer. Flu shots are also available for anyone, for a fee, from a doctor, nurse or some pharmacists.

ENDS

Please note:

Flu immunisation is free for certain Canterbury residents from your doctor, nurse or qualified vaccinating pharmacist if you're in one of these groups:

  • Anyone aged 65 years or over; or
  • Pregnant women (any stage of pregnancy).

Flu immunisation is free only from a doctor or nurse if you're in one of these groups:

  • People under 65 years of age (including children) with long-term health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease (including asthma that requires regular preventive therapy), kidney disease and most cancers;
  • Children aged four and under who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness; and
  • Young people from six months to 17 years old years of age living in the Kaikōura and Hurunui areas (within the Canterbury District Health Board).

For more information on influenza visit www.fightflu.co.nz.

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Page last updated: 3 October 2018

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