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Hospital staff ward off flu

Busy hospital staff can now get flu shots on the wards while they work.

Infection control staff are offering flu vaccinations to nurses, doctors and clerical staff in all inpatient wards at Wairau Hospital.

The move means vital personal do not have to leave the wards at all.

Previously, vaccinated staff had to wait 20 minutes to be given the all clear to return to work.

A spokeswoman from Nelson Marlborough Health says staff can continue to work but a nurse will be on hand to ensure they are still safe.

“We have vaccinators on wards so that staff can ‘get done’ while they work and continue working while being observed for the mandatory 20-minute period – very convenient.”

The flu jab is offered to 3,000 NMDHB staff.

Last year a record 1.3 million New Zealanders were immunised against influenza, after the northern hemisphere experienced a particularly fatal flu season.

But health bosses are warning people not to be complacent with seven confirmed cases already confirmed at Nelson Hospital.

The peak season is typically around July and last year saw a last-minute surge of people booking vaccinations.

Nelson Marlborough Health chief medical officer and paediatrician Nick Baker there has been a steady rise in vaccination levels over the past five years across Marlborough.

“The increasing demand reflects increasing community understanding of just how severe influenza can be and the importance of efforts to protect people and prevent it spreading.

Flu vaccination is especially important for anyone who has a health problem that means they are less able to cope with flu. Any condition that makes it harder to breathe and cough well makes influenza particularly severe,” he says.

“We encourage every person who is eligible for free vaccination to get this done as soon as possible, from their GP or from some pharmacies.”

Vaccination is free for pregnant women, people aged 65 or older, children 4-years-old or under who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness and those aged more than 65.

Nick says it is especially important to vaccinate children with any respiratory illnesses.

“While the common cold can be nasty for children especially infants, influenza is much worse.

“… it’s harder for them to breathe, cough or cope with high fevers and congested noses,” he says.

“Our overall message for parents is to consider whether there is anything about their child that means they are likely to cope less well with flu or suffer more complications.”

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