How To Make Your Flu Shot More Effective In New Zealand
Flu Vaccinations NZ: How To Make Your Flu Shot More Effective
For centuries, influenza has remained a public health concern across all countries. Global estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO) reveal that about one billion flu cases occur yearly. Of this figure, up to 650,000 people die from severe complications. To prevent deaths and minimise the number of critical cases, the WHO highly encourages vaccination for protection.
Like the rest of the world, the New Zealand government has free vaccination programs for vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly and pregnant women. Besides this, flu shots are also being offered in the workplace, administered by private healthcare providers.
Flu vaccination works by administering an inactivated version of the flu virus into your body. The inactivated virus helps your immune system detect and then combat the flu virus should you be exposed to the flu.
While a flu shot doesn’t guarantee zero infection, it can help reduce the risks of complications.
In NZ, more than 1.2 million people have received their flu shots, according to the Ministry of Health. Additionally, the health agency has administered influenza jabs to over 574,000 seniors, or 71% of people over 65.
Discover more about flu shots and how you can optimise their efficacy in this article.
1. Know when to schedule your flu shot
Flu shots are best scheduled before the onset of winter. New Zealand experiences cold seasons from June to August, with temperatures ranging from 1.5 – 15.5 degrees Celsius (35 – 60F).
While the flu virus remains active year-round, respiratory illnesses tend to spike during winter. According to the Johns Hopkins site, the colder months force people to stay indoors. Without proper ventilation, it’s easier to spread the virus around. Additionally, individuals may have lower resistance levels due to the cold, dry air.
As different territories have different seasons, it’s best to check with your private and public healthcare practitioners about the best time to get jabbed. A flu shot in April or May could be the best option for NZ residents.
It can take two weeks before a flu shot to work, so it’s best to practice caution and limit your interactions with symptomatic people.
2. Get yearly shots
One of the primary reasons for the influenza virus’ tenacity is that it can adapt and evolve rapidly. The vaccines formulated last year may not effectively fight newly-formed strains of the present or future. Similarly, the potency of flu shots wanes over time. It’s best to get yearly flu shots for these reasons.
Getting the correct flu shots every year lets you enjoy a steady and high level of protection. Additionally, you’ll reduce the risk of infections among vulnerable populations and minimise the need for hospitalisation.
3. Keep everyone in the household vaccinated
It’s vital to keep every household member immunised to the flu virus. Flu is a highly contagious respiratory illness. Carriers who may not show any symptoms are capable of passing on the virus to their close contacts.
Besides children, the elderly and pregnant women, the NZ government also offers free immunisations to Maori and Pacific people older than 55 or children from 3 to 12 and patients with mental health and addiction issues. A flu vaccination consent form may be required in specific cases.
Ensuring that everyone in the family over six months old gets a jab is one way of promoting community immunity. This phenomenon, also called herd immunity, happens when a certain group gains higher levels of protection after receiving vaccines or recovering from the illness, strengthening their ability to fight off the infection.
4. Practise health and hygiene protocols
Flu vaccine efficacy may be your first line of defence, but exercising and proper hygiene can also boost your protection. To minimise the risks of getting infected, always wash your hands and use hand sanitiser wherever you go. Also, clean and disinfect door knobs and other high-contact surfaces at home or in the office.
Avoid dense areas and people with flu symptoms like chills and coughs. If you’re sick, call your supervisor, and don’t report for work until you feel better. Don’t hesitate to book a consultation if your symptoms don’t go away for a week.
Vaccinations remain the most effective approach to combatting influenza, and the abovementioned tips can help boost your protection. While health agencies worldwide have established flu management and immunisation programs, private companies like Onsite Health welcomes client organisations who have 10 or more staff wanting to receive flu vaccinations at the workplace. Should you need our assistance, send us a message or call us to get the care and protection you and your staff deserve.