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Get vaccinated now! Influenza Vaccinations The flu season is here again and Newtown Medical Centre is running its “Flu Vaccine Clinics” most days over the next month or so. Protection against flu is advisable for anyone whose state of health is not the best. Flu is a viral infection which cannot be treated by antibiotics; once you have caught flu you have to let the illness run its course and for people with a fragile state of health this is risky and a number of people die from the illness every year. Flu vaccinations are free for people over 65 and for most of those with a ongoing health conditions. Over the next few weeks we will be progressively contacting those we know to be eligible and inviting them to make appointments for their “flu jabs”. If you think that you are at risk of catching flu but are not eligible for a free vaccination we can still vaccinate you at a cost of $37.50. Business owners could think about providing their staff with protection against catching flu

and arrange for us to vaccinate their staff – this is cost effective in terms of reduced sick pay and loss of productivity.

Common Infectious Diseases in New Zealand There are a variety of other vaccines some of which may be funded for particular groups. If you think any of these are appropriate for you, consult your GP who will advise you, taking into consideration your state of health. Vaccines for the common childhood disease chicken pox (Varicella) are not funded but are available and suitable for children from 9 months onwards

and for adults. These will provide protection from infection or reduce the severity of chicken pox. Shingles is a distressing illness caused by a reactivation of the chicken pox virus in people who had chicken pox as a child. While not everyone will suffer from it the effects can be long lasting and may recur. A vaccine is available and recommended for those over 50 years, including those who have had shingles in the past or who are living with someone with a weakened immune system. Pneumococcal disease occurs throughout the year but is more common in autumn and winter. Pneumococci are the leading cause of bacterial pneumonia in young children and adults aged 65 years and older. The infection can also result in meningitis and septicaemia and the pneumonococcal vaccine provides protection against these life threatening diseases. Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the virus that causes warts. Some subtypes are implicated in cancers. HPV can spread through skin to skin contact as well as sexual intercourse. The HPV

vaccine covering certain strains of HPV virus is only funded for young women between 12 and 20 years and protects women against genital warts and cervical cancer. Men can also be infected and may spread the infection; they can also develop cancers. The vaccine can be given to women outside the funded age range and to men but this is at a cost to the patient. Meningitis is a very serious disease commonly caused by meningococcus, a bacterial infection. If bacteria pass into the blood, the disease usually progresses very quickly. A person with meningococcal disease may develop meningitis (inflammation of the membranes around the brain) but also septicaemia (blood infection) or pneumonia (lung inflammation). These can lead to death. Vaccination against meningitis is recommended for adolescents and young adults living in close proximity to each other, (e.g. boarding school, university halls of residence, longterm institutional care), travellers to high-risk countries and Hajj pilgrims. In some circumstances it may be appropriate for infants and young children.

most people have had a tetanus injection but should see their GP to check if it is up to date.

NZ but can still be contracted overseas. You should check your vaccination status with your GP.

Travellers Diseases and Vaccines Travellers leaving New Zealand, particularly for some less developed countries, may be exposed to infection by diseases which are very rare in New Zealand. Depending on which parts of the world you intend to visit there are diseases which it is advisable to be protected against. We are able to consult with our patients on the routine, recommended and sometimes required vaccines. As these change from time to time your GP will have the latest information. Typhoid and Hepatitis A can be found in contaminated food and water. We can immunise against both these diseases and often

recommend these vaccines for patients travelling to South East Asia and some other parts of the world. Some travellers may also be advised to have Hepatitis B vaccine; Hepatitis B is a blood borne infection. Tetanus, also called lockjaw, is caused by the action of tetanus toxin released by a spore-forming bacillus called Clostridium tetani. The bacillus and spores are found the soil around the world, including New Zealand. Tetanus occurs after the bacillus and/or spores are introduced into the body through a wound and release a toxin that affects the nervous system. Tetanus is part of the NZ immunisation schedule so

Poliomyelitis is a highly contagious viral disease caused by three types of poliovirus (types 1, 2 and 3). Prior to the development of polio vaccines nearly every person exposed became infected, with the highest disease rate being in infants and young children. Infection can result in irreversible paralysis, usually of the leg muscles but in a small percentage of cases the breathing muscles are paralysed and the person may die. Polio can only be prevented through immunisation, and has been virtually eradicated in

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Insects do transmit some diseases e.g. Dengue Fever, Zika against which there are no vaccines and so protection against insect bites is important. Malaria is also contracted from infected mosquito bites but there are medicines that can be taken to prevent this potentially fatal infection. During our travel consults we will also advise how to manage your medications and your ongoing medical conditions while travelling.

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