Health Minister Jonathan Coleman launched the annual influenza immunisation campaign at a community diabetes clinic in Porirua, Wellington on the 6th of April, 2016.

“More than one million New Zealanders get immunised against influenza each year,” says Dr Coleman.

“This year the influenza vaccine has two new strains to ensure New Zealanders are better protected this winter from the strains of influenza circulating around the world.”

Those with diabetes are at risk of serious complications when they get the flu which includes being admitted to hospital and death. 

The flu can make chronic health problems, like diabetes, even harder to control. People living with diabetes will need to check their blood sugar levels more frequently. Illnesses like the flu can interfere with this as  you may not feel like eating when sick which can lower your blood sugar levels.  

People with diabetes should talk with their health care provider to talk about prevention and how best to manage winter illnesses.  People with the flu can pass it on to others before symptoms appear.  That’s why it is important to make sure the people around you talk to their health care provider about winter illnesses and the flu vaccine.

  • Continue taking your regular medication and/or insulin.  Don’t stop taking them even if you can’t eat.  Your health care provider may even advise you to take more insulin during sickness.
  • Test your blood glucose every four hours, and keep track of the results.
  • Drink extra (calorie-free) liquids, and try to eat as you normally would. If you can’t, try to have soft foods and liquids containing the equivalent amount of carbohydrates that you usually consume.

The flu immunisation is free for New Zealanders with high risk of complications, through their GP which includes those over 65 and including those under 65 who have certain medical conditions. 

These medical conditions include those with long term health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, kidney disease, cancer, as well as pregnant women.

Until the end of July the flu vaccine will be free. “A total of 1.2 million doses are expected to be distributed.”

The influenza vaccine for the 2016 season includes two new strains based on recommendations from the World Health Organization:

  • A/California/7/2009 (H1N1) – like virus
  • A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2) – like virus (new)
  • B/Brisbane/60/2008 – like virus (new)

 More information can be found at www.fightflu.co.nz or www.health.govt.nz/influenza