Carterton Medical Centre practice nurse Corina Ngatai with Masterton resident Mere Kerehi. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

It’s that time of year again. Wairarapa doctors have begun urging people to book in for a flu vaccination to help stay well this winter.
Medical centres and some pharmacies in Wairarapa are now offering flu vaccinations, which help protect against the serious illness.
After a severe flu season in the northern hemisphere, Carterton GP Annie Lincoln said this year could be a bad one for the winter illness.
“A flu vaccination is one of the best ways to stay well during winter and avoid the spread of flu in the wider community.”
A study has found that around 25 per cent of the population get the flu virus each year, with about four out of five people showing no symptoms.
“This means you could be spreading the flu virus without knowing it or being unwell,” Dr Lincoln said. “Having a flu vaccination not only helps to protect you from this highly-contagious disease, it also helps to keep your family, friends and co-workers well too.”
This year’s vaccine provides protection against the strain that caused severe illness in the northern hemisphere.
Wairarapa DHB chief medical officer Tom Gibson suggested people book a vaccination before the onset of colder weather.
“Now is the best time to have a vaccination, before winter arrives, to ensure you’re protected before the flu season starts.”
Flu vaccinations are free for pregnant women, for those aged over 65 and for people with certain medical conditions including children under five with respiratory conditions.
People can contact their medical centre to check if they’re eligible and to book an appointment.
Flu vaccinations will also be available at several Wairarapa pharmacies this year.
Workplaces are also being encouraged to offer flu vaccinations to their staff.
“Vaccinating your staff is a good way of keeping them well during winter and your business operating,” Dr Gibson said.
Wairarapa medical centres conducted flu vaccinations at over 100 workplaces last year, with businesses ranging from supermarkets to vet practices, schools and timber yards offering vaccinations to their staff.
Other businesses provided vouchers to their staff to get a flu vaccination at their medical centre.
Dr Lincoln also urged people to get “winter ready”.
“If you or someone in your family gets asthma or has COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), now is the time to check you have inhalers ready to use if you need them.”

FAST FLU FACTS

Influenza (flu) is a serious illness that can put anyone in hospital and be fatal, even for young and healthy people.
* Typical cold symptoms such as coughing, headache, running nose, muscle pain and fever are more severe with flu, which develops suddenly and can last for up to 10 days.
* Pregnant women and their babies can suffer serious consequences from getting the flu.
* Older people and those with certain medical conditions are more likely to have medical complications from the flu.
* Flu is very contagious and spreads easily through breathing, coughing and sneezing.
* The flu virus survives for 48 hours on surfaces such as door handles and six hours on hands.