District Health Boards are urging people to get the seasonal influenza vaccine as the flu season kicks off and hospitals are already overflowing from a particularly busy summer season.
Waikato Hospital’s Emergency Department has had a particularly busy summer season, with clinical nurse director Mary-Anne Spence saying the number of people presenting to ED in January and February was equal to those seen in the thick of winter. That’s lead to concerns that an especially bad flu season could swamp the department.
Taranaki DHB Medical Officer of Health Dr Jonathan Jarman said data showed one in four Kiwis were infected with influenza each year, with many not exhibiting symptoms at all but still able to pass it on to co-workers and family members.
“Due to the nature of their work, healthcare workers are twice as likely to acquire influenza compared to non-healthcare,” he said.
This year’s seasonal vaccine included a strain that has been particularly lethal in the northern hemisphere, Associate Professor Nikki Turner told the SMC in a Q&A ahead of the flu season.
Local news covering the start of the flu season includes:
Stuff.co.nz: Flu forecast bleak for swamped Waikato Emergency Department
Taranaki Daily News: Flu season is starting – DHB says get the flu jab
Stuff.co.nz: Deaths in New Zealand from pneumonia and influenza could rise