Those living with HIV are being urged to take advantage of a Ministry of Health programme that currently provides free influenza vaccination for groups particularly at risk of illness. Dr Paul Bohmer, spokesman for the National Influenza Immunisation Strategy Group says it is important for people in the high risk groups to be vaccinated now before the cold months start, as it takes two weeks for the vaccine to work. "Influenza is very contagious, as it is easily spread between people. Influenza is not like having a simple cold - it makes people very unwell and miserable for up to 10 days and can have serious complications,” he says. The New Zealand AIDS Foundation says that vaccination reduces the chances of contracting influenza this winter by up to 90%, which also means less chance of serious complications, like pneumonia, which can lead to hospitalisation and death for those with a weakened immune system. “The benefits of vaccination are most useful for people with a viral load of 100 CD4 cells or higher,” says the Foundation's Positive Health Manager, Kevin Baker. “The ability to mount an immune protective response to the vaccine with very low CD4 levels is much poorer, and therefore vaccination is less useful for these people."
Credit: GayNZ.com News Staff
First published: Wednesday, 19th May 2004 - 12:00pm
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