It’s all about Flu jabs now. What’s your position on these?

A Porirua mother suffering diabetes never misses her flu jabs each year and today was no different.

Faye Maene was one of four local women along with Health Minister Jonathan Coleman who volunteered to get immunised against the flu as part of the influenza immunisation campaign at Porirua’s health centre in Cannons Creek today. The 49-year-old mother was diagnosed with diabetes 16 years ago and she said maintaining her health has proved difficult.

“It’s been really tricky. It’s really hard going to the shops and watching everyone eating what they like.

” … but I have to be strong and put limitations on what I eat,” she said.

“I know to be there for baby is also number one, looking after myself so when baby grows up I’m healthy and well to see him grow … “

Mr Coleman said it was important for New Zealanders to get immunised, coming up to the flu season.

“It can be a really nasty disease that can end up with people in hospital and can kill as well.”

I fully appreciate that high risk people can benefit from these jabs.  People with severe asthma for example.  But it has my personal and observational experience that among otherwise healthy adults, two things happen:  1) they get ill from the jab, or at least are sub-optimal for some time, and 2) a fair proportion get the flu anyway.

Personally, I have stopped getting a jab for about a decade now, and even with a family that brings all the school varieties home, I hardly go down with the flu.

I also understand how immunisation works, but viruses mutate every season, and last year’s jab was largely ineffective because of it.

Where do you sit on this?


– NZ Herald


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  • Carl

    Never had one and never will. I get the odd cold over winter but have never been hit by the flu.

  • pisces8284 .

    I have had the flu jab every year since 2000 and haven’t had a dose of the flu yet. A friend (a nurse funnily enough) told me that it was good to get the flu now and again. Really? She is a district nurse who visits sick people every day and passes on her germs. She only started getting a flu jab when the DHB made it compulsory

  • Stuarts.burgers

    At a new job and the boss is offering it for free, at last job it was a pain to get the time off to get the jab, so this time is the first time in a about 8 years I will have the flu vacine I will see how it goes.

  • Second time around

    The flu is different from a cold and severe flu can kill you. Even if the strain in the vaccine is not quite right it may still improve your immunity to flu (and to other infections). However it is a free world and non health workers are free to make their choice.

    • Michelle

      l have a friend who is allergic to eggs so can’t have flu jab and works in health sector she takes Buccaline berna and doesn’t seem to get sick

  • Vlad

    Don’t really know about the science around this and I absolutely wouldn’t take any notice of tinfoil google about health, especially vaccinations, but I’ve had the jabs for the last few years and I haven’t had a flu or any bad effects for all that time, so I trust my excellent GP and it has worked 100% for me (71yo).

    Trust your doctor, use your computer for other purposes, you didn’t compete with the best in NZ for a place at med school and spend 7 years training did you.

    • “you didn’t compete with the best in NZ for a place at med school and spend 7 years training did you.”

      That’s just red rag to a bull that. If you used the same approach on climate scientists, then the AGW debate is well and truly over.

      Also, attack the topic, not the person.

      • Seriously?

        It is pretty much over, for exactly that reason.

    • Orange

      I think this is a fair point, that we should put more import on the advice of people who’s training is in the area in question. Like going to the dentist or a car mechanic when the car stops working. It is possible for the dentist to be very trained on fixing cars but you can’t dismiss the experience of the trained mechanic who does it for a job. Some vaccinations, like the whooping cough one in the Herald where the disbeliever ended up giving it to her child, are 90% effective. Some, like the winter flu shots, are a bit more random given the prevalence of any particular strain. But the risk from them is really incredibly minimal and the benefits are multifaceted and genuine so.. why not? Will be trying it for the first time EVER in about a weeks time. So I’ll let everyone know how my experience goes. If I never post again I’ll be with the Lord and Pete will be happy, or at the least, mildly conflicted?

  • Brian Smaller

    About thirteen years ago I got a really bad flu that I thought was going to do me in – like four or five days with temperatures in the danger zone. I have tried to get the vaccination each year since but have gone the last few without and have not caught a flu – at least if I did I fought it off with a day of feeling a bit sub-par. Work gives them out free.

  • Day Day

    Had a close relative develop an allergic reaction to a flu shot in the mid 70’s. We think it ultimately contributed to his early death. So I won’t go near them. I used to get plenty of flus when I was young, which I think has protected me pretty well as an adult. Only had flu twice in the last thirty years.

  • Spiker

    I get the vax because it’s cheap & available. If it had been like that when it took my great uncle down we would have likely had another whole line of family. We are fortunate to live at it time when we have these choices.

  • XCIA

    I was up at the doctors last week, and she said that she would see me for my flu jab in a couple of weeks time. The last one I had was in the 70’s and I didn’t feel particularly flash after that, so I haven’t had one since. Mind you I have had the lurgies just about every year since, so I think I will give it the benefit of the doubt and take the plunge.

  • Spiker

    Just talking with Mrs Spiker, she got hers today. It was $32, mine at another clinic was $25. Quite a difference, might pay to shop around.

  • Dog Breath

    Have had flu injections for as long as I can remember. I have been flu/cold free for as long as I can remember. I heard that the jab is accumulative that after 10 years you have pretty much covered a lot of flu bases. Whether that’s true or not I do not know.

    • I’d be interested to see some background on that.

      • phronesis

        It would depend a lot on the individual. It’s true that over a long period you’re going to be exposed to most of the common antigens by way of repeated vaccination. For many people their response to the vaccine will not last more than a few years but some will retain a memory of much earlier vaccinations. This doesn’t help much when it comes to antigenic shift though which is why a history of flu vaccinations is not going to save you from the next pandemic.

  • Kevin

    I got the flu jab for the first time this year. I was at the doctor’s for another reason anyway and so it wasn’t a big deal.

    My position is that they are largely ineffective.

  • Chris EM

    I used to, but don’t anymore. I also used to get the lurgie really bad at least once a year, but I don’t anymore.
    Last year work offered free jabs for staff, but hardly anyone was interested so they cancelled it.

  • RobT

    Have been getting the injection for about 5/6 years and haven’t gone down since. Still get an annual cold and or bad chest coughs.
    I especially started getting while I was at work, because half the people I shared a large office with wouldnt give in to a bout and wouldn’t stay home …instead acting in their own minds as heroes by continuing to turn up at work and pass it on to all and sundry!

  • Isherman

    My employers have offered these free for some years now and were dispensed very late last month. Personally I’ve never bothered, at worst I occasionally pick up a common cold and a dose of the sniffles during seasonal changes. My observations are that over the years the uptake has fallen away somewhat, which I’m happy enough with. The reason why, is that invariably I have a number of people in my office away in the days following having one, which tends to be in the week leading up to month end, and I get sick (no pun intended) of carrying other peoples bits and bobs until sign off when I’m busy enough myself…really annoying.

  • AL357

    I get the jab every year as does my wife and we don’t get the flu.
    I used to get the flu and now don’t – we are believers!

  • Crowgirl

    I do one year on, one off mostly to get natural immunity going as well as the vaccine. I seldom get the flu though – just the occasional head cold.

  • Glenn

    Had full-blowen flu 10 years ago and have had jab ever since. I’m a diabetic so doesn’t cost, also daughter is a doctor and recommends for the whole family.

    • JustTinkering

      Agree. Ten years of the jab. 10 years free of the flu. No side effects either.

  • Steve (North Shore)

    I do suffer from the flu and manflu. Flu can put me down for 2 weeks. I have the jab (already done this year) even got the jab in Alaska last June, which is prob the same we get here now
    I have a theory. Some who have never been really sick seem quite proud of themselves. YOU ARE THE CARRIERS.
    These smartbugs are smart. The don’t want a sick host that is home in bed suffering, they want a good healthy host that goes everywhere spreading the germs and viruses without even knowing.
    Shame on you

  • JEL51

    Never had one but I’m not out mixing with the contagious that much. If I am going to fly (forced to share the latest brew of greeblies) I’ll pack crackers with freshly crushed garlic to protect me. I am cautious and will only use my own cup where ever I am. So far so good.

    • phronesis

      Increased proximity to other people is definitely a risk factor. I’m sure your freshly crushed garlic breath serves you well in that regard.

      • JEL51

        Haha, my dear Asian mother-in-law would tell us that a strong breath indicated dehydration ie: lacking fluids (in a tropical climate, it is really important to know that.)
        Since having been made aware of that I have observed that to be true whether or not garlic is included. Keep up the fluids, no problem with garlic breath.

    • kereru

      Hand sanitiser is recommended as many viruses are transmitted from one person to another through surfaces. When you touch a contaminated door handle, for example, and then touch your face, it’s possible to transmit viruses through your mucous membranes. Not all viruses are airborne.

      • Seriously?

        No no, the garlic works better. It has no effect on the virus but it keeps potential carriers well away.

        • JEL51

          see below but I forgot to add bad teeth to cause ;) (garlic has wonderful powers beside keeping unwanted ferals away)

      • JEL51

        Agree, also since smoking on-board has been banned, the cleansing fungicidal effects of tobacco seems to have made planes a breeding ground for new strains.
        We were hit a few years ago on a flight to Melbourne. It took two days to take us down but boy did we cop it. Ever since, it’s garlic crackers with do-up-your-seat-belts.
        Observe anyone who has completed a long-haul flight and I bet with-in 3 days they are laid-up in bed, too crook to even lift the head.

  • Asian_driver

    Too many people dont understand the difference between influenza and the common cold, ofthen substituting the word flu for cold, the same people are off work for 2 days with a bit of flu.
    Im in the vax camp , got done today, free if you are sick lame or lazy like me. I offer it to all my employees, they retell me the I got vacinated and got really sick story and decline, if they get sick and come to work I go home, thats the other thing about contagous diseases, they are contagous, wish they would get that too !

    • kereru

      You’re right, the viruses which cause the common cold and influenza are completely different. I’ve sometimes wondered if, when you say you have had ‘the flu’, people are more likely to be sympathetic. Why do people say ‘the’ flu, but not ‘the’ cold?

      I’ve had influenza a couple of times in my life and it causes a high temperature and it can take some weeks to recover your energy. Nothing like a cold where your temperature is usually below normal and you have a sore throat and runny nose which lasts about 2-3 days.

      And, yes, both of us always have the ‘flu jab and are fortunate in not having any reaction to it at all.

  • Kiwi101

    My employer offers them for free but I haven’t had one for the last 10 years. The last time I had one 48 hours later I ended up so sick I was off work for a month. I’m not keen to risk getting another one.

    • Clydesmum

      I have been having them for the past 20 years but last year had a pretty scary reaction to the jab, couldn’t breathe and face swelling so I am not allowed to have them any more. Will be interesting to see how I get on this year.

  • kereru

    While on the subject of jabs, I’ve noticed that vaccinations to prevent shingles are also being offered this year. They’re available from our doctor’s surgery and local pharmacy. They’re not free and have to be ordered when you book an appointment.

    • Michelle

      You can also get one to prevent pneumonia which last for 5 years l think it is more for people who have had it or a likely to get it

  • venator

    A tad short sighted. Research says otherwise.

  • Michelle

    Got mine today
    l get one every year and have done since the kids were little after getting very very sick and struggled with small kids and calving season, we were both ill at the same time and would have given anything to crawl into bed and die
    Have not had the flu since but watched so many around getting very sick with flu

    Each to their own it suits me but not others

  • hookerphil

    Have had one each year for the past 8 as have had heart valve transplant and don’t recall getting the flu. My wife has not been getting them and doesn’t recall getting the flu either.

  • rexabus

    Flu jabs seem like over-management to me unless there’s an existing predisposition or something

  • Bluemanning

    Flu jabs cover existing strains. So any new varieties say from east Asia, or northern hemisphere, it is just unlucky to catch it. I have the jab from my better half gratis, haven’t had the lurgi for decades even when I was a frequent international business flyer.

  • LovetoTeach

    I don’t get it- got buccaline one year and had THE WORST year for sickness ever. We’re offered them free from our BOT but I won’t be getting one

  • Digger

    I’m very pro vaccination for bacterial illnesses, especially for children. Viral ‘flu shots though, not so sure. Personally, I’ve never had the ‘flu (51 years old) and work with the great unwashed all the time. Keeping yourself fit I think is a big factor. I run on cold winter nights, in the rain etc. and manage to a minor cold once a year. I love watching my colleagues get the flu shot then get sick…

    • Orange

      That’s completely not how science works. The real questions are how many more people would have been affected had they not had the shot to avoid being a carrier, and how many associated illnesses have been prevented indirectly through either population relationships or reducing complications.

  • Orange

    “The data … is enough for me to take the vaccine, if for no other reason that it may prevent me from passing it on to my patients.”
    In particular the several conclusion paragraphs are most helpful. Basically, science is nuanced but that “You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.”

  • JLS

    I’m with you on this one- observed the same over the years and cynical it’s more about $ than measurable benefit.

  • Metricman

    Keep fit, wash your hands, get plenty of sleep and maintain a positive mental attitude. I have not had a flu jab for over 40 years, and have never had the flu in all that time. I have had many colds, but as pointed out, they are not the same. People sometimes say “I have a touch of the flu” what nonsense, the real flu flattens you.

  • Aucky

    They just don’t work for me. Started taking a daily Vit B Complex tab and a 10,000 unit capsule of Vit D every three days and haven’t had flu for coming up six years.

    I’m not an anti-vax nutter.

  • LesleyNZ

    I have a heart valve problem so medical advice was that I have the flu injection every year – so I do. I did catch a bad head cold last year but that was not the flu. My husband also gets the flu injection. It seems to be effective for me.

  • Captain_Hindsight

    I usually get it because of a related medical condition, and usually manage to not get sick. Apart from this year. The flu got me before the jab was available. :-(

  • As commentators have noted, influenza is not the common cold. Influenza can and does kill. The Spanish Flu epidemic after World War 1 killed more than the war did. The Spanish flu was also notable for the higher mortality rate amongst the fit and able.

    The influenza immunisation shot has a typical 60% effectiveness in prevention of the flu, though the other 40% will have benefits of lower acuity and quicker recovery.

    The NZ flu jab has the benefit of picking up the learnings from the Northern hemisphere which due to both population numbers and way of living tends to be where new mutations come from. Hence last year, those who got the quadvarix shot received significantly better protection than those who got the trivarix shot.

    It works, yes, some people do feel slightly down for a couple of days after the shot, as the bodies immunisation system kicks in to respond to the vaccine, but it does not give you the flu.

  • Keeping Stock

    I get a free jab due to a chronic condition I live with. But even if I had to pay for it, I would continue to get immunised annually to give myself the best protection available.

  • Legallysane

    I pay to have one each year as the last time I contracted the flu I was on my back for 3 days straight. Decided after that occasion it was something I’d rather not repeat. I did have a rough night after one jab though, apparently it was my immune system doing its thing to fight off the invaders.