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April 27, 2015 | by  | in Being Well |
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Five things you need to know about the Flu vaccine

Why do I need to protect myself against flu?

Influenza is a serious infection. It affects one in five of us each year. Around 400 deaths each year in New Zealand are thought to result from flu. Anyone can get flu, including young, fit, healthy people. You can protect yourself by following these steps:

  • Getting the flu injection and encouraging others to get it too

  • Staying home if you think you might have flu—avoiding going to work or uni means you reduce the risk of spreading the infection to others

  • If you are coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and wash your hands thoroughly, preferably using a hand sanitiser.

Protecting yourself not only reduces your risk of getting flu, but also protects other people around you, including those who are the most vulnerable—the elderly, very young, pregnant women, and people who are frail or sick.

  1. Does the flu injection give me 100% protection against flu?

No is the short answer. However, it does give around 70-80 per cent protection against the strains of flu that are contained in the vaccine. It will also reduce the severity of your infection if you do get flu. The strains of flu contained in the vaccine are chosen carefully, based recent outbreaks around the world.

As it takes 10–15 days to develop antibody levels after receiving the vaccine, it is important to get the vaccine as soon as possible, and not wait for an outbreak of influenza.

  1. Will I need to get immunised again?

Yes—you should have a flu vaccine every year. Firstly, as your body’s response to the flu vaccination declines with time, having the vaccine annually will give you optimal protection. Secondly, because the strains of flu causing outbreaks tend to vary from year to year, last year’s vaccination may be potentially useless against this year’s type of flu.

  1. Are there any risks from flu vaccination?

Contrary to popular belief, the flu vaccine cannot give you flu as it does not contain live influenza virus. People do often report feeling as though they have a cold after the injection for a day or two, or having an area of pain and redness around the injection site—this is a normal response to the vaccination, and does not mean you are allergic to it. More serious side effects are very uncommon, despite the vaccine being used by many millions of people around the world. You are far, far more likely to become unwell from a flu infection, than from the vaccine itself.

  1. How much will it cost?

The vaccine is free for all students at Victoria. During the flu season, we will be running vaccination clinics in Halls, and other locations on campus, or call Student Health on 04 436 5308 to make an appointment.

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