The Nelson Hospital is reporting cases of influenza and increased respiratory infections this winter. Photo: File.

Flu season takes grip of Nelson

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After a slow start to the winter, the flu season is hitting Nelson hard with the hospital reporting cases of influenza and increased respiratory infections.

“After a mild start, we can confirm that the flu season has started in the Nelson region,” says the district health board’s clinical nurse specialist, Barbara Gibson.Nelson GP spokesman Graham Loveridge says there has been a sharp increase in both colds and flu over the last couple of weeks.

Nelson GP spokesman Graham Loveridge says there has been a sharp increase in both colds and flu over the last couple of weeks.

“It’s about usual for this time of year, but there hadn’t been much in May or June so it feels like a sudden onset.”He adds that there has been a good uptake of flu vaccine this winter, with many work places giving

He adds that there has been a good uptake of flu vaccine this winter, with many work places giving free flu vaccine to help keep staff at work.

“The flu vaccine gives good, but not absolute, protection – probably 60 percent effective.”
He says avoiding contact with flu sufferers, hand washing, avoiding touching your face, alcohol hand-sanitisers and plenty of sleep, all help to stay healthy.

“And those with the flu should stay away from work.”

Harley’s Pharmacy owner Andrew Harley says they are seeing more customers with the flu – rather than milder cold symptoms – this winter.

“This year’s flu has been pretty intense and the worst thing is that it lingers for a long time.

This one has a nasty cough that can linger for three weeks or so.

“The people who have been hit have been hit hard this year.”

He adds that they haven’t experienced any surges in cold and flu medication sales, with more people going straight to their doctor.

Nelson Hospital specialist Richard Everts says that while Nelson flu-like illness rates are low compared with the rest of the country, the hospital is prepared for a potential increase.

“Anecdotally there is certainly a lot of flu-like illness around, so we are reminding healthcare workers about how to prevent passing on viruses.”

Owner of Collingwood Street Pharmacy, Gary Chalmers, says he isn’t seeing a worse flu season than other years, with the onset of colds and flu’s “to be expected”.

“I’d encourage anyone to vaccinate – it’s not a miracle cure, but it’s best to get it yearly.”

To check your eligibility for the influenza vaccination, you can visit www.fightflu.co.nz