Catching the flu can lead to severe illness or death for certain high risk members of the community, including children with asthma.

Most of these children who die from flu are not vaccinated.

The idea that fit, healthy tamariki who have asthma and are on preventers can simply “fight off” a flu infection without any problem is not always the case.

Te Hiku Hauora Medical Director Dr Norma Nehren says parents who did not get the flu vaccine for their tamariki last year were usually concerned the vaccine would make them sick.

“I tell them that the flu vaccine stops us from getting the flu and it contains antigen pieces that look like the flu virus, but they’re not live and cannot cause the flu.”

Getting the flu vaccine is a major step towards achieving protection from flu.

Protecting younger people, especially those with ongoing medical conditions, is a special focus for this year’s seasonal influenza immunisation programme.

It is these “high risk” groups that should actively avoid catching it.

Individuals at high risk of developing severe illness or complications if infected with flu are eligible for a FREE flu vaccine funded by the Ministry of Health.

These include:

  • anyone 65 years and over
  • anyone with long-term health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease (including asthma if on preventers), kidney disease and cancer
  • pregnant women
  • tamariki 4 years and under who have been hospitalised for a respiratory illness, or who have a history of significant respiratory illness.

(A more detailed list for eligibility is available at

See your nurse or doctor to get a ‘flu shot’ to protect yourself, your whanau and those you come into contact with.