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  • Dr. Young Lee

Updates for flu shots, thoughts about the COVID19 vaccination roll out



Hi everyone! To those who are new to the clinic - this is a monthly, or sometimes fortnightly newsletter that I send out. It usually contains useful information such as health updates in New Zealand, and some of my own thoughts about COVID19 related matters and health news. So without further adieu - on to the Health News! Flu shots - in for all age groups! Please call to make your flu shot appointments This year, we have 4 different types of flu shots for different age groups. It is advisable to get flu injections yearly because the type of flu virus that goes around seems to change a little bit each year. As New Zealand is open to international travelers - we will be importing flu variants into the country and as we are all mingling again - there is no doubt that there will be more flu this year than last year. Last year - New Zealand recorded it’s lowest number of flu cases thanks to the lock down and the border closing. Flu shots are free for those over 65, or those under 65 with more serious medical conditions - such as respiratory problems (asthma on regular inhalers, recurrent bronchitis, emphysema, heart conditions (previous heart attacks, angina, heart valve problems), chronic disease (autoimmune such is inflammatory bowel diseases, rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis), diabetes, cancer and pregnant women. See a more comprehensive list at: https://www.influenza.org.nz/eligibility-criteria Flu vaccines are still recommended for everyone else. I’ve had my vaccination. The COVID19 vaccine and flu vaccine should be 2 weeks apart. If you’ve had your COVID19 vaccine, you can get your flu shot 2 weeks after your 2nd shot. If you haven’t had your COVID19 vaccine, come and get vaccinated first against flu. Cost of flu jabs are $35 per vaccination. Most people only need 1 shot. Children under 9 may need 2 shots if they’ve never had a previous flu shot. Remember a few key points about any vaccinations:

  • Nothing is ever 100% protective. The flu shot is about 40-60% protective, which is not bad. Even if you do get flu - it tends to be less severe - so you don’t get as sick and you get better sooner. Lower efficacy vaccines are still very useful when there is a lot of disease around, and every year there is plenty of flu going around.

  • Vaccinations are like wearing a seat belt in a car. You don’t wear your seat belt expecting a car accident. But if you did get into one, you’ll be glad you had the seat belt on.

  • Vaccinations do not weaken your immune system. They wake up your immune system so they work better. Nature does this anyway - if you get sick from something, you are less likely to get sick from the same thing again. Vaccinations work better than nature because we are able to get the immune system to work better and longer.

I hope everyone goes out and gets vaccinated. Ring the clinic to sort out your vaccination time, thanks.

Why is the COVID19 vaccination roll out so slow? I’ve had a few thoughts about this. I think most of us are looking at this, thinking about the 300-400,000 vaccinations in stock and wondering - how the hell is it so bloody slow? We should have had those vaccines in our arms by now. And if not us - at least those who are more vulnerable. We should be seeing tens of thousands of people being vaccinated daily. Do the maths - if you want to vaccinate 4,000,000 people in 1 year, you need to vaccinate at least 10,959 people a day. If you exclude weekends and that we only have 1/2 a year left, that means we only have 130 days to vaccinate that many people. We have to vaccinate 30,679 people a day. That is just not happening. Of course at some point, we will have a supply problem and have to wait for the delivery of the vaccines. Why is this happening? Why are we so slow? Well, this is a logical versus pragmatic argument here. The logical thing to do is to vaccinate the people who are the most likely to get sick (MIQ, front staff, doctors, nurses, hospital workers, airports etc), then the people who if they get sick will get really sick (elderly, those with chronic medical conditions, Maori, Pacific Island, etc) and then everyone else. The pragmatic way to vaccinate people is to have the really motivated people just sign up and get vaccinated. The government seems to be taking the logical but not pragmatic approach. They are spending a lot of time doing invite only vaccinations. They are chasing a whole bunch of people to get vaccinated. The problem is it’s likely that only 50-60% of the people they chase are motivated. So they end up spending a lot of time and money chasing people and 40-50% might not even turn up for their appointments. Meaning that vaccines can get wasted. I would argue that they should work with each band - and then ask people to self register and turn up. The highly motivated people will almost 100% turn up to be jabbed. These are the low hanging fruit. After vaccinating all the highly motivated people, we can then go back and chase all the people who didn’t register. This approach is far more pragmatic and will reduce time wastage. The downside is that the more vulnerable people who aren’t as motivated will be left behind for a few months. I would argue that this approach is still better because speed is more important. Then when things slow down, vaccinators with less to do can be roped into contact tracing and chasing people down to be vaccinated. I believe that every time the government makes a nationwide intervention policy, they really should get a behavioural expert to see how they can marry pragmatism with the logical approach. Human beings don’t always behave logically. But we all behave out of self interest. It’s not overly difficult to predict how we will behave in general. Well, I hope that was an interesting read for everyone. Stay safe and warm! Please share this with your friends if you find this helpful, and you think it might be helpful to them. If people are interested in finding out about our medical practice or joining us, please look us up on: https://www.baysidemedical.co.nz/

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