Flu infects around 1 in 4 each year
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Press release
23 February 2017
Free flu vaccine for people with respiratory conditions

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ strongly advises people with a respiratory illness to get their free influenza vaccination from March onwards. It is best to get vaccinated before the start of the winter season, before influenza enters the community. 

The free flu vaccine is available to all people 65 years of age and over, and people under 65 who have asthma and on regular preventative therapy, or have a chronic respiratory disease with impaired lung function. It is also free for children aged four years and under who have significant respiratory illness.
People with long term respiratory conditions such as asthma are at high risk of complications from flu, even if their symptoms are mild or well-controlled by medication. Complications include pneumonia, heart failure and worsening asthma symptoms.
“The flu is a very serious illness that can result in hospitalisation or death, even for young and healthy people,” says spokesperson for the Foundation, Dr Matire Harwood.

“Approximately one in four Kiwis are infected with influenza every year. A lot won’t feel sick at all, but can still pass it on to others. Getting the flu vaccination well before winter offers you and others the best protection.”
It’s important for the flu vaccination to be done every year as protection lessons over time. Additionally there is one new influenza strain in the 2017 vaccine that was not included in the 2016 vaccine.

Free flu vaccinations are available until 31 December from your GP and some pharmacies.

To organise an interview with Dr Matire Harwood please contact the Foundation. Dates available for interviews are 24 and 27 February 2017.

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ
Phone: 04 495 0097
For more information visit:
Quick facts 
• Respiratory disease includes asthma, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), obstructive sleep apnoea, bronchiectasis, childhood bronchiolitis and childhood pneumonia 
• Respiratory disease is New Zealand’s third most common cause of death. 
• Respiratory disease costs New Zealand more than $5.5 billion every year. 
• One in six (over 700,000) New Zealanders live with a respiratory condition, and these rates are worsening. 
• Respiratory disease accounts for one in eight of all hospital stays. 
• More than half of the people admitted to hospital with a poverty-related condition are there because of a respiratory problem such as asthma, bronchiolitis, acute infection or pneumonia. 
• People living in the most deprived households are admitted to hospital for respiratory illness over three times more often than people from the wealthiest areas. 
• Across all age groups, hospitalisation rates are much higher for Pacific peoples (2.6 times higher) and Maori (2.1 times higher) than for other ethnic groups (Telfar Barnard et al., 2015). 
Copyright © 2017 Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ, All rights reserved.

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