Keep well this winter

Articles

It's important to protect yourself against harmful bugs, especially during Winter.

Get a flu shot

Autumn is the best time to get your annual flu shot (known as a vaccination), so you’re protected before flu season strikes. You, or your family/whānau may even qualify for a free flu shot.

Flu vaccinations are free for New Zealand residents, citizens and some visa holders from a doctor, nurse or qualified vaccinating pharmacist from March till the end of December, if you’re in one of these groups:

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

Flu vaccinations are 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.
Hot tip

Do you qualify for a free flu shot?

Check out the flight flu website or 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863) to find out whether you qualify for a free flu vaccination.

Fight Flu | Ministry of Health

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

Research shows that you can infect others with the flu virus even when you’re not showing symptoms yourself. So, if you are caring for others, you can help avoid passing the virus on to others close to you by being immunised.

Flu is not the same as a cold. It is a serious disease that can also make other existing conditions, such as breathing or heart problems, even worse, with some people ending up in hospital and some dying.

The influenza vaccine is a prescription medicine. Talk to your doctor or nurse about the benefits and possible risks.

Watch out for tuberculosis

While rare in New Zealand, tuberculosis (TB) is still relatively common in some parts of the world.

People with tuberculosis don’t always show symptoms. If you are healthy, your body can usually stop the TB bacteria from growing. If you have caught TB, it may not show up until months or years later.

The symptoms of TB can be similar to other illnesses. The most common symptoms are:

  • a cough lasting three weeks or more, often with thick phlegm
  • tiredness
  • night sweats
  • weight loss
  • swollen glands (usually in your neck).

If you have these symptoms or if you have been in contact with someone who has TB, it is important to see your doctor. They can arrange tests to see if you are infected.

TB is a treatable disease, and treatment and testing is free.

Places considered to have a high rate of TB (40 or more cases per 100,000 people) include most of Africa; much of South America; Russia and the former Soviet states; the Indian subcontinent; China, including Hong Kong; South East Asia (except Singapore); some Pacific nations (except Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau and Tonga).

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