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Don't Let Swine Flu Get You!

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Jan 19 NZPA - Fifteen New Zealanders died from swine-flu related illnesses last year flu experts said today, urging people not to skip the flu vaccine in the approach to winter.

The National Influenza Strategy Group (NISG) also urged GPs to order vaccine now, the magazine Doctor reported.

NISG said it was concerned that complacent New Zealanders might skip the flu shots this year.

"Don't Let the Flu Get You" TV adverts start running mid-April, and stocks of the seasonal influenza vaccine were expected to arrive here about mid-March.

"We've already seen evidence from the Northern Hemisphere winter that some people there have treated swine flu as a mild illness which isn't worth the bother of immunisation," spokesman and virologist Lance Jennings said in a media release.

Swine flu was expected to be the predominant influenza virus here in 2011.

Mr Jennings said flu-related hospitalisations spiked last year with more than 700 people admitted with laboratory-confirmed cases of pandemic influenza, compared with an average of 327 influenza hospitalisations per year between 1989 and 2004.

Fifteen of the 20 swine flu-related deaths reported to the end of September 2010 were confirmed as due to swine flu.

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