The Great Waikato Flu Mystery

Looks likely someone in the health racket is wanting to whip up a bit of business in the Waikato by frightening the people there into lining up for their flu shots.

An item at Infonews kicks off:

Waikato people are especially vulnerable to deadly ‘flu strains but are slow to take advantage of the available vaccination.

But there’s not one bloody word to say why this should be so.

The item does say:

The serious viruses circulating this winter are: H3N2 which killed six children in Australia last year, the H1N1 a variant of which caused the Spanish flu outbreak that killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide in 1918, and a B-strain flu known as B/Florida.

Waikato Primary Health community project manager Ngahuia Herangi believes this year’s flu season could be much more serious than those of recent years.

“It’s really important that people realise just how serious a dose of flu can be, and that we need to have coverage of at least 80% of our population to prevent outbreaks. It’s such a simple and safe option, and it can have enormous benefits to the community to have healthy people over winter.”

But that doesn’t help us understand why Waikato people might be more vulnerable than those in Eketahuna – or anywhere else.

Herangi does say pneumonia is a significant risk for flu sufferers, and hospitalisation is almost always required which is a stressful experience for anyone, young or old.

But that’s true of flu sufferers anywhere.

She also says:

“Flu is highly infectious, and contrary to what so many people believe, being fit and healthy is not enough to keep you from getting the flu.”

But that’s also true of fit people anywhere.

Then came the nub of the message: immunisations are free for high risk groups until June 30th. Immunity is achieved in two weeks from receiving the immunisation and lasts for 12 months.

The item concluded:

“Even for those who are not eligible for free immunisation, it’s a small price to pay to keep yourself and your family safe over winter.”

Which leaves us with a mystery about the Waikato and its particular proneness to flu.

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