As the national influenza immunization campaign starts today, a recent study shows that even if a patient still catches the flu after immunisation, their symptoms are less likely to be severe.
Plus, annual influenza immunisation can keep older people healthy and active for longer. Severe influenza can lead to a stay in hospital which may in turn increase frailty and loss of independence in older people.
Influenza immunisation is especially important for people aged 65 years and over. This group experiences up to 90 percent of flu-related deaths and more than half of flu-related hospital stays.
A record 1.3 million doses of vaccine were distributed in New Zealand in 2018.
The ‘Flu Kit’ has been updated and provides vital information and samples of promotional resources. Additional resources are available to order through the Resources website page at www.influenza.org.nz
Promotional resources this year include new waiting room posters that will reflect New Zealand’s diverse population - the four-week TV ad campaign will begin on April 28.
Changing to an April start date is intended to ensure that the vaccine remains as effective as possible during the peak incidence of influenza, which in recent years has occurred in late winter.
Health experts in New Zealand have taken the decision to start vaccination later in the year after sector consultation and considering new clinical evidence that shows maximum protection from influenza is seen around two weeks after vaccination and starts to decline by about seven percent per month from then.
Importantly, the rate of decline in protection is more prominent and rapid in those aged 65 and older and the very young.