Taranaki residents aged 65+ encouraged to vaccinate against influenza now
27 April 2021
Toko Matangi, aged 93, gets his flu vaccination
It’s now time for people in Taranaki aged 65+ to get their free influenza immunisation and protect themselves and their family/whānau from flu.
Older people are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill if they catch flu so the Taranaki DHB is encouraging everyone aged 65 and over to get this first before the COVID-19 vaccination.
For the first time there is a specifically designed vaccination to meet the needs of the 65+ year old immune system. FLUAD QUAD is funded for adults aged 65 years or older and is available free from GPs, Māori health providers and participating pharmacies.
Taranaki District Health Board (DHB) chief medical advisor Dr Greg Simmons says all healthcare workers in this age group are also being encouraged to get their influenza vaccination now. It’s planned the flu vaccine will be available to all other age groups from 17 May 2021, he says.
“Influenza immunisation is recommended and free for people who are most likely to get very sick, be hospitalised or even die if they catch influenza. Influenza continues to be a major threat to public health worldwide because of its ability to spread rapidly through populations.”
While the influenza vaccine does not protect against coronavirus infections, it will help prevent a serious illness that causes hundreds of deaths each winter in New Zealand.
Dr Simmons says yearly vaccination is recommended because protection from the previous year’s vaccination lessens over time and because the strains in the vaccine often change each year in response to the changing viruses.
“Older people who have been vaccinated but then get influenza are less likely to develop a severe illness and be hospitalised. The risk of influenza-related death increases with advancing age, the presence of long term conditions, or increasing levels of frailty.
“Influenza also increases the risks of disability and frailty and sometimes older people struggle to return to good health afterwards with ongoing difficulties of completing activities of daily living,” says Dr Simmons.
For more information on influenza immunisation and a list of where to get a flu vaccination in Taranaki see: https://www.tdhb.org.nz/services/flu.shtml
- Annual influenza vaccination supports healthy ageing, independence and quality of life.
- Older people are more likely to catch influenza and get very ill or die, even if they are fit and healthy.
- The influenza vaccination can protect older people from getting influenza or if they get influenza, they are less likely to get very ill.
- The influenza vaccination cannot give a person influenza as it does not contain live viruses.
- Being immunised can stop people giving influenza to their family and friends.
NOTES TO EDITORS
The Ministry of Health recommends a gap of around two weeks between influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations, and four weeks or more between measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) and COVID-19 vaccinations.
Please note that while a two-week gap between influenza and COVID vaccines is recommended, there are no clinical safety concerns should the gap between vaccines be less than two weeks. MMR and influenza vaccines can be given at the same time.
Find out when you can get a COVID-19 vaccine
There’s an online tool on the Unite Against COVID-19 website to find out when people can expect to get a free COVID-19 vaccine.
Last updated: Tuesday, April 27, 2021