Everyone will be thankful they have finished organizing flu vaccinations for their staff this year. It can seem like a daunting exercise. So why do we have to do this every year?
Today, the term “the flu” no longer instills fear, and is often confused with the common cold. We say, “Oh yes, I got the flu last year. I missed 2 days of work”. (We more than likely had one of the many other viruses that circulate during winter). It was a very different picture in 1918, when a tragic flu pandemic swept across the world. Nearly 9000 New Zealanders died, with whole families wiped out. (New
Zealand History, 2018) Thankfully 100 years later we have the flu vaccine!
Coming into contact with the flu virus is unavoidable, as it can be anywhere around us. The flu virus spreads very easily, and unfortunately being fit and healthy doesn’t stop you catching it. (The Immunisation Advisory Centre, Ministry of Health, 2018)
The flu is caused by different strains of the flu virus. It is very different to a bad cold; it is a serious disease. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, aching muscles, headache, cough and severe fatigue. It can range from feeling very unwell for a few weeks right through to hospitalization and even death in extreme cases. (The Immunisation Advisory Centre, Ministry of Health, 2018) Pretty sobering stuff.
A thing to remember is that not everyone who catches the flu feels unwell. Studies have shown that 4 out of 5 people who catch the flu have no symptoms. (The Immunisation Advisory Centre, Ministry of Health, 2018) . The danger of this is that they can spread it to others who may become very unwell.
We know the flu virus survives up to 8 hours on hard objects like desks and door handles, so a person can catch the flu by touching the contaminated objects, then touching their own mouth or nose. It is important to know that a person can start spreading the flu before they realize they have it. (Influenza Specialist Group, 2017)
Even a mild case of the Flu can be very disruptive to work, friends and family life. About one in four New Zealanders get the flu each year, taking an average of four sick days off work each, according to a 2015 Southern Cross survey. And here is an interesting fact; research published by experts in Australia has shown that the flu vaccination seems to almost halve the risk of heart attacks in certain at risk people. (Influenza Specialist Group, 2015) .
The best way to protect yourself, your family and your work colleagues is to get a flu vaccination. Effectiveness of the flu vaccination does vary from person to person. Factors affecting it are age and health status of the person. It also depends on how well the match is with the flu strains that are around. Generally it is around 60% effective. (Science Media Centre, 2018) Remember vaccination protects not only the person vaccinated, but also the people around them who may be more vulnerable.
Elderly, children, pregnant women, and people with chronic diseases are at high risk of dying from the Flu. (Ministry of Health, 2018)
Don’t forget, the flu vaccine is not a live vaccine, so you can’t get the flu from the vaccination. Vaccines work by “training “ your body to recognize parts of the flu virus. Then if you come across the real flu virus, your body will know how to protect itself. Often people say they don’t want the flu vaccine because it makes them “sick”. A good response to this is that feeling slightly unwell can be mistaken having for the flu. It is a normal response to vaccination, and a healthy sign that the body is doing what it needs to, i.e. building up protection. (Immunisation Advisory Centre, 2014)
It can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to provide the best protection, so it is best to get your team vaccinated well before winter. We take bookings any time, so workplaces need not wait until flu season is upon us.
Centres for Disease and Control and Prevention. (2017, October 5). Influenza (Flu). Retrieved April 5, 2018, from cdc.gov: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/spread.htm
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, October 3). Key Facts about Influneza (Flu). Retrieved April 5, 2018, from cdc.gov:
Immunisation Advisory Centre. (2014). Influenza Info For Health Professionals. Retrieved April 5, 2018, from influenza.org.nz:
Influenza Specialist Group. (2015, November 17). Flu Vaccination and Heart Attacks. Retrieved April 5, 2018, from isg.org.au:
Influenza Specialist Group. (2017, June). How Influenza is Spread. Retrieved April 5, 2018, from isg.org.au: http://www.isg.org.au/index.php/about-influenza/how-influenza-is-spread/
Ministry of Health. (2018, March 23). Influenza. Retrieved April 5, 2018, from health.govt.nz: https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/conditions-and-treatments/diseases-and-illnesses/influenza
New Zealand History. (2018, January 26). The 1918 Influenza Pandemic. Retrieved April 5, 2018, from nzhistory.govt.nz: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/culture/influenza-pandemic-1918
Science Media Centre. (2018, February 28). 2018 flu season and influenza vaccine – Expert Q&A. Retrieved April 5, 2018, from sciencemediacentre.co.nz: https://www.sciencemediacentre.co.nz/2018/02/28/2018-flu-season-influenza-vaccine-expert-qa/
The Immunisation Advisory Centre, Ministry of Health. (2018, March). Everything You Need To Know About Flu. Retrieved April 5, 2018, from