Taking a seasonal flu vaccination helps prevent you from contracting influenza. Also referred to as ‘the flu,’ it’s a respiratory system infection affecting the nose, throat, and lungs. While you can recover after a few days or weeks, even without medication, the flu can sometimes cause deadly complications, including shortness of breath, eye pain, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, a dry cough, a sore throat, chills, and aching muscles.
That’s why it’s advisable to get the seasonal flu shot and protect yourself. If you get the flu after vaccination, your symptoms will be milder and more manageable. The New Zealand government is at the forefront of encouraging people of all ages to be vaccinated. For instance, 71% of seniors got the jab in 2022, and health officials are working towards increasing this figure. With that in mind, this article outlines critical information you must know as you prepare to get your seasonal flu vaccination.
The flu vaccination can be administered to anyone aged six months and older. That means all children, teens, and young and older adults should get the jab. However, the type of vaccine given varies according to the patient’s age, as outlined below:
- AFLURIA® QUAD: This influenza vaccine is given to children and adults aged three years and above.
- AFLURIA® QUAD JUNIOR: This is best for children below three years.
- FLUAD® QUAD: This flu vaccine is recommended for older adults above 65.
- FLUQUADRI™: This can be used for children and adults above six months old.
Failure to pick the correct vaccine for your age may lead to unwanted side effects and harm your health.
Another thing to note is that your physician may advise you against getting the shot if you have allergies to particular flu vaccine components. Also, getting vaccinated may be unsafe if you suffer from chronic conditions like Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Talking with your doctor about your current health conditions will shed more light on your eligibility.
Flu vaccines will cost you between NZD$25 and NZD$45, depending on the provider and type of vaccine. You can get the exact cost from your local pharmacy or general practitioner.
However, you can get a free vaccine if you meet specific eligibility criteria. The New Zealand government offers free shots for the following groups of people:
- Anyone aged 65 and above
- Pacific and Māori people aged 55 and above
- Pregnant women
- Anyone with chronic health conditions like asthma, heart problems, or diabetes
- Tamariki children between 3 and 12 years
- Drug addicts
- People with mental health problems
If you fall into any of these groups, you can get your seasonal flu vaccine at no cost. You can consult your doctor if you’re unsure about your eligibility for a free vaccine. Another way to get free vaccines is if your employer sponsors them. Some companies invite vaccine providers to their workplaces and vaccinate every staff member.
It’s best to get the flu vaccine before winter. The flu spreads fastest during the cold season, infecting millions of people. New Zealand’s winter months typically run from June to August. That’s why the government provides the shots starting April 1st. Remember, it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to be fully effective. Thus, getting your shot weeks before the onset of winter is prudent. Furthermore, not everyone can be immunized within a week or month. The period between April and June helps you plan for your jab, so you don’t fall behind.
The flu vaccination is not a once-in-a-lifetime affair like other vaccine shots. You must get it every year because flu viruses evolve now and then, forcing vaccine manufacturers to produce shots for the latest strains. If you were vaccinated against a different virus strain last year, it might not be effective now. Moreover, the vaccine’s effectiveness lessens over time, necessitating a booster shot annually.
Most people don’t experience side effects when they get the flu shot. However, some people experience mild aftereffects like pain and swelling around the injection spot, fever, tiredness, weakness, skin rash, breathing problems, and a loss of appetite. In most cases, an experienced vaccine provider will monitor you closely right after the shot to determine if there are any strange reactions. If you’re safe, they’ll release you. But if you experience adverse effects, they’ll advise you on possible treatment options.
Getting your seasonal flu vaccination is an excellent way to stay protected from the harmful effects of influenza, which is prevalent during the winter. Everyone aged six months or older should get the vaccine. So, make plans to get your shot as soon as possible. You should check with your doctor to see if any medical conditions will prevent you from receiving the vaccine. And besides vaccination, it helps boost your immunity to protect yourself from such infections.