Women with breast cancer eligible for free ‘flu vaccination

If you have breast cancer you are eligible for a free influenza vaccination and now is the best time to be immunised before the winter ‘flu season arrives.

The annual immunisation is recommended for people with ongoing medical conditions, who are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from influenza, such as pneumonia.

Ideally you should be vaccinated before the ‘flu season hits with a vengeance, usually between May and September.

It takes up to two weeks to develop immunity once you have had the vaccination.

The influenza immunisation is free for New Zealanders at high risk of complications, which includes those with breast cancer. You can get the vaccine through your GP until the end of July.

The Ministry of Health website www.fightflu.co.nz also notes that you cannot get influenza from the vaccine, as it does not contain any live viruses. However, some people may experience mild side effects such as muscle aches or headaches for a short time after immunisation.

The influenza vaccine for the New Zealand 2016 season includes two new strains based on recommendations from the World Health Organisation. The composition is:
-        A/California/7/2009 (H1N1) - like virus
-        A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2) - like virus (new)
-        B/Brisbane/60/2008 – like virus (new)

Similar to previous years, a total of 1.2 million doses are expected to be distributed in New Zealand.

For further information go to www.fightflu.co.nz or www.health.govt.nz/influenza or call 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863).

27 April 2016

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