HEALTH

Pandemic Influenza H1N1 2009 (swine flu) – Update 196

Friday 23 July 2010, 8:11AM
By Ministry of Health
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Increasing influenza activity,
Influenza activity continues to increase. In some areas of New Zealand - and as is often the case during winter - both GPs and hospitals are becoming increasingly busy with visits for influenza-like illness and other respiratory illness.


Small number of vaccines still available - get immunised now!
It's not too late to have your seasonal influenza immunisation as free vaccination has been extended. However, there are only a small number of vaccine doses available so it's important to book in to get immunised now, especially as it takes a up to a fortnight for the vaccine to offer its full level of protection. Young children also need a longer time as they require two doses a month apart to be assured of best protection.

Free immunisation for people in eligible groups will continue while there's still vaccine available. This year's seasonal influenza vaccine contains the pandemic H1N1 virus strain and is especially recommended for those at greatest risk of complications from pandemic influenza, including women who are pregnant, very young children, severely overweight people and those with underlying medical conditions.

Know how to protect yourself and your family
For some people influenza can be a very serious illness. The basic measures to protect yourself and others remain the same, but are even more important as we see more flu circulating in the community. These include:

  • get your seasonal influenza immunisation, which includes protection against swine flu
  • know the symptoms of influenza, which can include a high fever, headache, cough, sore throat, tiredness and generally aching all over
  • phone for medical advice quickly (GP or Healthline) if you have influenza-like symptoms, including consideration of whether you need antiviral medicine treatment. Antiviral medication may lessen the severity and length of your illness, but are best started within the first 48 hours. Antiviral treatment is currently available free of charge on prescription.
  • seeking early medical advice is especially important for women who are pregnant, severely overweight people and those with underlying medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, cancer, heart and lung disease and other conditions including autoimmune diseases
  • wash and dry hands frequently, cover coughs and sneezes and stay home if you are sick.


Phone early for advice
If you or your family are ill and you are concerned, or if your condition worsens, get health advice by calling your GP or Healthline on 0800 611 116.

International situation

In its 16 July 2010 update, WHO noted that overall pandemic and seasonal influenza activity remains low worldwide. The pandemic influenza virus continues to be actively transmitted in parts of South Asia, West Africa, and Central America.

WHO’s update on the progress of the pandemic is available on: http://www.who.int/csr/don/2010_07_16/en/index.html.


ENDS

Please attribute this statement to Dr Darren Hunt, Deputy Director of Public Health

For health information and advice, call Healthline on 0800 611 116.
For latest updates on the Pandemic Influenza H1N1 2009 (swine flu), visit www.moh.govt.nz.
Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/minhealthnz.
For media queries, call the National Health Coordination Centre’s Communications Desk on +64 (021) 243 6805 or email H1N1comms@moh.govt.nz