• Dr. Young Lee

Flu jabs are coming! Learn about Flu and Coronavirus

by Dr. Young Lee, MBChB, FRNZCGP, GP at Bayside Medical Practice, Auckland

Hi there - flu jabs are available on 1 April 2020 (Wednesday)

p/s: it's not a joke.

Please let the nurse know so that she can arrange a time for flu jabs for you. Email her at: to sort an appropriate time, or give us a ring at

09 5286152. Thanks.

Just some quick bits about Flu

What is flu?

Flu, or influenza is a virus that causes infections primarily in winter. Symptoms include high fever, headache, sore throat, cough and muscle aches and pains. I've had flu twice and I describe it as being run over by a car. I've actually been run over by a car while cycling so I can compare the two.

Why should I get vaccinated?

Flu is very uncomfortable, and might lay you out for 9-14 days. Small numbers of people die from flu every year, about 0.2% of those infected, but this can vary depending on the strain of flu. Flu is somewhat infectious - as about 1 billion people a year get the flu. Older people, or those with weakened immune systems such as cancer patients, autoimmune patients etc are more likely to get severely ill.

Will the flu jab protect me against coronavirus/COVID-19?

No. However - if you get flu and COVID-19 at the same time you are much more likely to get very sick. It's worthwhile getting protected against the flu.

How effective is the vaccine? Why does it need to be done every year?

Vaccine is 60-80% effective. However, even if you do get the flu after having the flu jabs - the flu is going to be less severe and won't last as long. I've gotten the flu with and without the flu jab - the difference was obvious. Without the flu jab I was sick for nearly 2 weeks. With the flu jab I was better within 4 days.

The flu jab is repeated every year because the current vaccine technology only allows us to react to the envelope or outer coating of the virus to produce antibodies. Antibodies are what our body produces to the vaccines to fight the virus. Influenza is very smart, and changes it's envelope regularly. The vaccines are designed based on the winter variants in the Northern hemisphere - so that when winter arrives here in the Southern hemisphere we have more up to date vaccines. The Northern hemisphere then checks what strains we have here in the South and develop their vaccines. Some years there is very little change and the vaccines are virtually the same, other years there could be a 40 to 60% change in flu strains.

Who should get the flu vaccine?

Everyone would benefit from this. Higher risk groups in New Zealand receive the vaccine for free.

Children from age 6 months and up can have the vaccine.

Children between the ages of 6 months to 9 years need 2 shots 4 weeks apart, or only 1 shot if they've previously had a vaccine.

Children over 9 years old and adults only need 1 shot.

Who gets free vaccine shots?

Oldies (adults 65 and older), Heart problems (heart valves, heart attacks, stents, not high blood pressure though), Lung problems (bronchiectasis, asthma requiring preventers), Immune problems (inflammatory bowel and joint diseases), Cancers (excluding mild skin cancers like BCCs and SCCs), Pregnant women.

I don't qualify for a free shot, but I'd like to get vaccinated. Where can I get vaccinated and how much does it cost?

Get your vaccinations with us, we have them available. It costs $35. Let us know early if you want vaccinations so that we can order additional supplies. We usually get a few hundred at a time.

Who should not get flu vaccinations?

If you had a previous severe allergic reaction to the flu vaccine such as trouble breathing, swelling of the throat etc - you should not have the vaccine.

If you are on any of these 4 chemotherapy agents, flu vaccinations should be delayed:

tezolizumab (TECENTRIQ®)

ipilimumab (YERVOY®)

nivolumab (OPDIVO®)

pembrolizumab (KEYTRUDA®)

What can I do to protect myself from catching the flu?

The same as any viral infection - stay about 1m away from people who are coughing. Wash your hands as the virus can land on surfaces. By the way - hand washing is much more effective than hand santizers. Do you know that the viruses and bacteria on the hand can become resistant to the alcohol. The physical movement of water with soap helps to actually shed the bugs on your hands.

If you would like me to talk about any other topics, please reply and let me know what you would find interesting or helpful. I plan on making an educational article every week. 

If you find this article helpful, please share it with your friends and family.

We are accepting new patients, so if there is anyone interested, please get them to visit:

for more information.

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