Did you know that if you’re over the age of 65, you can get the influenza vaccine for free?
Every year around 500 New Zealanders die from influenza. Older people – and those with existing health conditions, such as asthma, emphysema, or diabetes – are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill if they become infected. As the influenza virus often changes year-on-year, health professionals recommend that people aged over 65 get a flu jab every year.
This year, the Pharmaceutical Management Agency (PHARMAC) is funding a vaccine specifically made for people aged 65 and over – called Fluad Quad. You can be immunised for free against influenza from now through to the end of the year (31 December) at your local general practice or at a community pharmacy.
The vaccine provides the best protection against flu; although, like any medicine, it cannot provide 100% protection. Some people may experience mild side effects, such as swelling or redness around the injection site, muscle aches or headaches, a general feeling of tiredness or a fever. Don’t be concerned; side effects like these are perfectly normal and is evidence that the vaccine has started activating the immune system. Please be assured: the vaccine cannot give you the flu.
Allergic reactions to the vaccine are rare but they can happen. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to a flu jab in the past, seek advice from your doctor before getting vaccinated. If you are feeling unwell and have flu-like symptoms – such as a fever – it’s a good idea to postpone getting your vaccine; speak to your doctor if you have any concerns.
You need two weeks between receiving the flu jab and getting your COVID vaccine.
With the Covid-19 vaccine rollout also underway, if you’re over 65 and older or have underlying health conditions, you will be able to receive your Pfizer vaccine from May 2021 too – learn more about the Covid-19 vaccine here.
It’s important to understand that you need two weeks between getting the flu jab and getting your Covid vaccine. Having a gap between different types of vaccinations helps authorities be sure about any side effects that may occur.
- If you already have an appointment for your Covid-19 vaccination, get this first. You can have your flu immunisation two weeks or more after your second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
- If you don’t have an appointment booked for your Covid-19 vaccination, you can get your influenza immunisation first.
For more information about the influenza vaccination, visit The Ministry of Health’s website: https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/conditions-and-treatments/diseases-and-illnesses/influenza