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Safeguard, Sing Out, Shield and Repeat this winter

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Safeguard, Sing Out, Shield and Repeat this winter

Southern DHB is calling on everyone in the community to Safeguard, Sing Out, Shield, and Repeat this winter to help combat influenza, COVID-19, and other illnesses during the colder months.

With flu and COVID-19 already in our communities there are some easy, simple things we can all do to stay healthy, happy, and well this winter. 

SDHB Medical Officer of Health Susan Jack says it’s important that everyone continues to think about the steps they can take to protect themselves and their whānau.

“Our community already has much of the knowledge it needs to help keep illness at bay with the steps and actions we’ve learned from COVID,” Dr Jack says.

“Now, it’s time for us all to think about what we need to do to safeguard our health, sing out for help when we need it, shield ourselves from illness, and repeat those steps - as well as the ones we know so well from our fight against COVID-19.”

SDHB Chief Operating Officer Hamish Brown says the Southern region has already begun to face the significant challenges brought about by illnesses synonymous with winter, like influenza.

“Hot on the heels of Omicron, we have already seen many people in our region becoming very unwell with influenza, particularly in Dunedin. This winter is also our first in two years with New Zealand’s borders truly open, which means our natural immunity to viruses and other bugs has been weakened, and we’re likely to see increased pressure on our health system as a result,” he says.

“We know that our community values the care our staff, and those working in the wider Southern Health system, have provided during COVID-19, and now we’re asking you to keep doing your bit so that we can continue to care for those who need us most,” Mr Brown says.

The first step to safeguard yourself, and the best defence against any illness, continues to be vaccination.

“We’re calling on everyone to check if all of their vaccinations are up to date, and to contact their GP or head to a vaccination centre for the influenza immunisation as soon as possible,” Dr Jack says.

A flu vaccination will reduce your risk of severe flu symptoms, lessen the likelihood that you will require hospital-level care, and decrease the chances of passing the influenza virus on to others.

Vaccines are free for people over the age 65, Māori and Pacifica over 55, pregnant people, and people with long-term health conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart conditions. 

Dr Jack says now is an important time to check if you or your whānau have had all their other immunisations, or whether they need to be updated, for illnesses like MMR, COVID-19, and whooping cough - and if you’re not sure, sing out by contacting your GP or Healthline for guidance.

“If you do find yourself unwell, it’s really important that you stay away from work or school,” says Dr Jack.

“Look after yourself and your family – rest and fluids are especially important. Antibiotics will only work against bacterial infections, not the viral infections that cause influenza. While you may feel miserable, most people recover well with rest and taking appropriate medications to relieve discomfort and fever if needed.”

You can find out how easy it is to Safeguard, Sing Out, Shield, and Repeat this winter by visiting www.southernhealth.nz/winter-wellness. You’ll find easy-to-follow steps, resources, and contacts for where to go to get your questions answered.

While more details are provided on our website, below are the easy-to-follow steps to Safeguard, Sing Out, Shield, and Repeat this winter.

Safeguard

  • Get vaccinated
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Look after you and your family’s general wellbeing;
    • Eat well, exercise, rest, and rug up if you’re cold or unwell.
  • Look after your mental wellbeing.
  • Keep your home warm and dry too - check out this website for tips.

Sing Out

  • Ask for help if you need it - start with Healthline or your GP before heading to the ED.
  • Let your work and family know if you get sick.
  • Talk with your friends, neighbours and whānau.

Shield

  • Wear a mask
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow
  • Stay home if you’re sick!

Repeat

  • Remember what you did to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19? Continue to do that!
  • Repeat the three S’s - Safeguard, Sing Out, Shield… then repeat again!

Further resources:

Kiwis urged to look after themselves and alleviate pressure on health system this winter - Ministry of Health.