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Flu jab rollout ramps up

Some people are eligible for free flu vaccinations. PHOTO/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

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The Ministry of Health has ramped up its campaign to combat influenza, in a bid to divert more resources to the covid-19 crisis.

“While influenza vaccination does not prevent covid-19, influenza is a serious illness that causes hundreds of deaths each winter in New Zealand, and thousands of hospital admissions and doctor’s visits,” a spokesperson said.

“Improving the population’s protection against influenza will improve our ability to manage any increased demand on health services as a result of covid-19.”

If you are aged 65 or over, pregnant, or have a health condition such as diabetes or heart disease that puts you at risk of influenza, you can get free vaccinations at a general practice or vaccinating pharmacy.

Healthcare workers can also access this free vaccine.

This is being rolled out to eligible children aged from six to 35 months, as of Wednesday, with everyone else being able to access the vaccine from April 13.

This staggered approach will ease the load on pharmacies and medical centres and ensure that the most vulnerable people get the supply of vaccines first.

Susan Fullerton-Smith, communications adviser at Compass Health, which manages primary care in Wairarapa, said people in the region needed to be getting this fast and effective protective measure.

“People over 65, pregnant women, Maori and Pacific, and those with long-term health conditions are being encouraged to get this done as soon as possible and prioritised.”

In Masterton, Life Pharmacy is doing vaccinations during opening hours without appointment.

In Carterton, vaccinations are available in a dedicated space at Scout Hall, without appointment, from 9.30am to noon and 2pm to 4pm.

Pharmacies in Greytown, Featherston, and Martinborough are not doing vaccinations.

Medical centres are doing these vaccinations by appointment, however supplies of the vaccine itself are running short, or at some centres have run out completely, so it’s a good idea to phone centres and pharmacies first.

When you venture out for your flu jab, make sure to wear a mask, or failing that, a clean facial covering.

Keep at least two metres from people, and cover your mouth with your elbow if you cough or sneeze.

If you need to wait a while, you can do this in your car if it is convenient to do so.

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