LEVIN FAMILY HEALTH - Open 1st August 2023


Gary says... What is the Impact and Consequences of Not Having Flu Vaccinations in the Mid-Central DHB / Think Hauora PHO Regions

Influenza, commonly known as the Flu, is a highly contagious respiratory illness that can lead to severe health complications, hospitalisations, and even death. In the Mid-Central District Health Board (DHB) and Think Hauora Primary Health Organisation (PHO) regions, the importance of Flu vaccinations cannot be overstated. Despite the clear benefits, Levin Family Health believes a significant portion of the population remains unvaccinated, leading to considerable health and economic repercussions for us all.

Health Impact

The primary consequence of not having Flu vaccinations is the increased risk of influenza infection. As we know, the Flu Virus can cause a wide range of symptoms, from mild to severe, including fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, and headache. For vulnerable populations such as the elderly, young children, pregnant women, and individuals with chronic health conditions. WE have seen in a huge number of cases that the Flu can lead to serious complications like pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, and worsening of chronic diseases such as asthma and heart disease.

In the Mid-Central DHB and Think Hauora PHO regions, an upsurge in Flu cases directly correlates with higher rates of hospital admissions. During peak Flu season, hospitals and healthcare facilities face immense pressure, often leading to overcrowded emergency rooms and strained healthcare resources. This situation not only affects those with the Flu but also impacts patients with other medical conditions who require urgent care.

Community Impact

Levin Family Health believes a direct corelation to herd immunity plays a crucial role in protecting the community, especially those who cannot receive the Flu vaccine due to medical reasons. When a significant portion of the population is vaccinated, the spread of the virus is limited, providing indirect protection to the entire community. However, we have seen very low vaccination rates undermine herd immunity, allowing the Flu virus to spread more easily and rapidly.

Within the context of the Mid-Central DHB and Think Hauora PHO regions, lower Flu vaccination rates have led to widespread outbreaks. As we know, these outbreaks can disrupt daily life in a number of ways, causing increased absenteeism in schools and workplaces. Although this is not a prime reason for vaccinating, we must include how this not only affects productivity but also places a burden on families and caregivers who must take time off to care for sick relatives.

Economic Impact

Other areas low Flu vaccination rates impact the communities is that the economic consequences of not having flu vaccinations can and are substantial. The cost of treating influenza includes direct medical expenses such as doctor visits, medications, and hospitalisations. Additionally, there are indirect costs like lost productivity and absenteeism from work and school. For businesses, this can translate to reduced workforce efficiency and financial losses. For our Medical Centre, and others within the region, we may experience a freeze of many and, in some extreme cases, all clinical services for our patients.

The economic burden of influenza can be mitigated through proactive vaccination campaigns. By increasing vaccination rates, healthcare costs can be reduced, and the economic impact on the community can be lessened immensely.

Public Health Strategies

To address the low uptake of Flu vaccinations, public health strategies focusing on education and accessibility is paramount. Increasing awareness about the benefits and safety of the Flu vaccine is essential so continued messaging must be recognised and repeated within our communities and the public sector in general. Public health campaigns dispel myths and misinformation that often deter people from getting vaccinated. Additionally, making vaccines more accessible through local clinics, pharmacies, and community centres have the potential to help increase vaccination rates overall.

Levin Family Health, like many of our colleagues in the area, understand the impact and consequences of not having flu vaccinations can be far-reaching. All our local clinics are clear and robust about how health complications and increased hospitalisations open up economic burdens and community disruptions for us all, therefore continually engaging in promotions around the costs low vaccination rates have will be significant to us all. As the tag line for NIKE says... "JUST DO IT" - we as a collective in the Horowhenua and local districts stand by this. Prioritising flu vaccinations protects public health, it also protects you...  We at Levin Family and with the support of Gary says... want to ensure a healthier, more resilient and safe community is experienced by all.