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March 21, 2011 | by  | in Opinion |
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Student Health Services – Free Flu Vaccines on Campus

The seasonal influenza vaccine, which includes the pandemic (H1N1) strain, is now available at the Student Health Service (SHS).
During late March and early April, the SHS will be working closely with the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA) and Compass Primary Healthcare Network to provide free influenza vaccination clinics for students on campus and in residential halls.
Details of these clinics will be advertised in Salient and on the VUWSA and SHS websites.

The sudden onset and severity of symptoms and the risk of life-threatening influenza complications are the most significant differences between influenza and your regular run-of-the-mill cold.

Influenza will leave you bedridden and unable to care for yourself as you try and cope with symptoms such as high fevers, body aches, headaches, sore throat and fatigue which typically last between seven and ten days. Some people take many weeks to become fully fit again. Influenza is not a walk in the park and being young and healthy will not protect you from getting influenza.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) advise that the H1N1 influenza virus is likely to continue and cause serious disease in younger age groups, and that a small proportion of people, including young and healthy people, are at risk of developing a severe form of primary viral pneumonia that is especially difficult and demanding to treat.

Vaccination is the most effective way of reducing your risk of developing influenza. The vaccine is safe and it cannot give you influenza, as the strains in the vaccine are inactive. It is recommended that you have the vaccination before May when the influenza season tends to start. This is because it will take your immune system about two weeks to develop antibodies.

It is not recommended that you depend on your own immune system to protect you as the life of a student places you at higher risk of catching influenza. Just think of over-crowded buses, full lecture theatres, shared computer keyboards and living in accommodation with lots of other people. Also influenza can be spread by people who look well. This is because a person can spread the virus a day before they develop symptoms. It is thought that children can shed the influenza virus for two weeks or longer. Therefore trying to avoid people who have influenza is difficult. Even if you had the vaccine last year, or even had swine flu, the clear expert advice is to boost your immunity with an annual vaccination.

The vaccine is also available for free (funded by the Government) for people with certain ongoing health conditions until the 31st of July. Conditions include but are not limited to people who have asthma and take a regular preventer inhaler, diabetes, autoimmune conditions or pregnant women. If you are not sure if you are eligible for a Government-funded influenza vaccine please check with your doctor or nurse. You can book a nurse appointment to get vaccinated at SHS.

• Being young, fit and healthy will not protect you from influenza
• Influenza is not just a bad cold—it can be serious and potentially fatal
• Immunisation is your best protection as it helps to improve your body’s defence against influenza
• Details of the influenza vaccination clinics at Victoria University will be widely publicised
• For more information about the flu vaccine call 0800 466 863, TXT FLU to 515, visit www.fightflu.co.nz or contact SHS

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