27 Mar 2014

Pregnant Maori urged to get flu jab

6:36 am on 27 March 2014

A health advisor is urging pregnant Maori women to take action and get vaccinated after several unseasonal outbreaks of swine flu.

The chief advisor on tikanga and general manager of Maori Health across Auckland and Waitemata District Health Board, Naida Glavish, says six people in Auckland have been hospitalised.

Eight people have been treated for swine flu in Hawke's Bay Hospital this month alone, and one woman is in a critical condition in a coma while two others are in intensive care.

There have also been swine flu outbreaks in Canterbury and Wellington this summer.

Tthere's many different strains, with some very serious and can cause death.

Ms Glavish says most cases in Auckland have been on the Northshore however cases have been notified in all three Auckland district health boards.

She says the best defence for influenza is vaccination and for the most vulnerable people the vaccine is free.

Ms Glavish says that unless it's at the serious stage swine flu or influenza is often ignored totally by a lot of Maori families who are pre-occupied with other pressures.

But she says tangata whenua need to make it a higher priority and stop thinking it will happen to someone else and not them.

The health advisor says the number of people contracting measles in Auckland alone this year stands at 84 in 2014, with over half of the cases so far linked to Westlake Boys High School.

Ms Glavish says that could mean measles is spreading in the community and it's imperative that people look after themselves and their whanau and get vaccinated.

The last time Auckland had a measles outbreak, in 2011-12, there were 500 cases with 82 requiring hospitalisation.