Influenza kills. It’s as simple as that. But last year kiwis dodged a bullet.
Back in February, while we were enjoying the beaches and the glorious summer in Christchurch, health professionals in New Zealand and in the CDHB were already gearing up for winter.
Deadly Flu Virus
The AH3N2 flu strain brought down 230,000 Aussies with flu symptoms last winter. 745 people sadly lost their lives. From Australia the AH3N2 flu strain flew around the world. 191 people died in the UK last winter, while the USA had the worst flu outbreak in nearly a decade, with 100 people dying each week.
Of all New Zealand, Christchurch was the hardest hit by the flu last year. Christchurch Hospital admitted nearly 400 people with flu-related symptoms, over 70 more than the same time last year. Our elderly Cantabrians were the hardest hit, even though they relieve free flu vaccinations and are highly encouraged to get them.
Having made its way around the world, it’s likely this new strain of the flu is on its way back to Christchurch.
“It’s very likely the strain will come to New Zealand,” says Dr Nikki Turner of the Immunisation Advisory Centre. “We’re a global community, and the flu virus loves to travel.”
One of the reasons authorities believe so many people died internationally was an ineffective flu vaccine. Every flu vaccine is based on last year’s version of the flu. Unfortunately, by the time the virus has worked its way around the globe and come back again, it’s different.
An Ever-Changing Illness
“Viruses are clever little demons. The viruses tend to change all the time, so you have to catch up with them. Every now and then the virus changes a bit quicker, a bit more than we expected, and we’re behind the eight ball,” says Dr Turner.
Because of this, getting vaccinated doesn’t mean you won’t get sick.
“There’s no guarantee until you actually see it arriving in the country,” she says.
By all means, get your flu vaccine. But don’t believe it’s a cure-all.
“People tell me all the time that they’re not going to get sick this winter because they’ve had their flu shot, says Stay Well Pharmacy’s Mark Webster. “That’s like putting on your underwear and saying you’re fully dressed! In both cases it’s a good place to start, but there is plenty more you can do.”
How Can You Avoid Getting The Flu?
The best strategy, like a good winter outfit is always a multi-layered approach.
“Boosting your personal immune system and getting healthy are two of your best defenses against the flu,” says Mark. “And it’s always best to take action before you start feeling sick.”
“To strengthen your immune system, I recommend our Winter Wellness Packs. A 3 day course of Buccaline, and a daily dose of vitamins and minerals have reduced the amount of sick leave some people have had to take by over ninety per cent,” says Mark.
The team at Stay Well Pharmacy can package up your Winter Wellness Pack for you, making it easy to get the right dose. Handy for businesses and families around Christchurch.
When it comes to ‘getting healthy’ there is no one-size-fits-all approach. For the best advice around what healthy living looks like for you, come in for a consultation with Mark.
“In one of our private consult rooms, we can discuss your diet, medication, lifestyle and physical and mental demands to get a 360 degree picture of your health. From there, we can form a personalised plan that works for you,” he says.
Contact Stay Well Pharmacy
With over twenty five years’ pharmaceutical experience, people come from all over Christchurch to seek Mark’s advice on healthy living.
Are you serious about wanting to stay healthy and avoid the flu this winter? From Winter Wellness Packs to a private consultation, do your immune system a favour and contact Stay Well Pharmacy.