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What You Need To Know About the 2022 Flu Season

It is hard to believe that we are approaching winter and we have flu vaccinations in stock now. With winter comes the flu season. For the past two years with our borders closed, we had two years without influenza in the community. however, this year with the borders open for the first time in two years the threat of influenza is at an all-time high. The reduction in infections over the past two years has also led to a lower than normal immunity against the flu in the community. It is expected that we will have the flu in our community this winter, we cannot predict what this year's season may be like, therefore, it is best to be prepared.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends countries step up their influenza vaccination campaigns during the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent severe disease and hospitalisation associated with influenza and prepare for co-circulation of influenza and COVID-19. In the United Kingdom’s winter of 2019–2020 there were COVID-19 and influenza co-infections which resulted in severe disease outcomes, with higher mortality rates in cases with co-infection, compared to those who only tested positive for COVID-19. During COVID-19 outbreaks, influenza vaccination becomes increasingly important, as the co-circulation of both diseases leads to an increased risk for severe illness if both viruses are caught whilst unvaccinated.

Immunisation Against The Flu

Immunisation is the best form of protection against Influenza.

The 2022 Influenza Vaccination is a quadrivalent vaccination, it contains four strains of influenza. These are:

• A/Victoria/2570/2019 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus

A/Darwin/9/2021 (H3N2)-like virus (new) *

• B/Austria/1359417/2021-like virus (new) *

• B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus

The circulating influenza viruses can change and the strains in the vaccine usually change each year in response to the changing virus pattern.

* New strains for 2022

Immunisation against the flu is free for a large number of New Zealanders in 2022, click here to see if you are eligible for a free flu vaccination.

Are you travelling internationally?

Studies have shown that influenza is the most commonly contracted vaccine-preventable disease amongst international travellers. Out-of-season transmission of influenza-like illnesses, in conjunction with COVID-19 co-circulation, presents risks for severe disease in instances of co-infection, especially in the elderly and immunocompromised. During the regular pre-travel consultation, all people travelling outside Aotearoa New Zealand should be advised to receive an influenza vaccination. This is particularly important for those travellers who are at higher risk of influenza complications are eligible for a free flu vaccination.

Is my flu vaccination recorded on my health records?

Your flu vaccination is recorded in the new National Immunisation Solution Register.

Do I need to wait after my flu vaccination?

You are required to wait in the pharmacy for at least 5 minutes after your flu vaccination is administered if you have not had previous anaphylaxis to any influenza vaccination and have not had any vaccinations in the past week. You are able to leave the pharmacy after 5 minutes if you have another adult with you for the next 20 minutes if you have the ability to contact emergency services. You are not to drive, skate, scoot, ride a bike or operate machinery until 15 minutes post-vaccination.

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