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Small ouch, big lifesaver: the influenza vaccine

Vaccines may not be a lot of fun for anybody, but they’re one of the most effective tools we have for saving children’s lives. Yes, that small ‘ouch’ can be a big life saver. As the days get shorter and the weather gets cooler, annual flu vaccinations are on everyone’s lips.


Recent research shows about one in four New Zealanders become infected with influenza each winter, but many don’t develop symptoms and may in fact be unaware they’re sick. Tens of thousands seek medical advice for flu-like symptoms every year and, on average, about 400 die from influenza, or its complications, annually.
Health Minister Dr David Clark recently rolled up a sleeve for his annual influenza vaccination and says the goal for 2018 is to break last year’s record, which saw more than 1.2 million New Zealanders getting vaccinated.
“Our influenza season normally begins from June, so getting vaccinated by mid-May is the best way to be protected for winter,” he says.
“If you’re vaccinated, you’re less likely to catch influenza, less likely to pass it on to others, and less likely to be severely ill if you do catch it.”
This year’s funded vaccine will protect against four strains of influenza for the first time, including the A(H3N2) strain that badly affected people in the Northern Hemisphere during their winter.
Health Intelligence Group, ESR Public Health Physician Dr Sarah Jefferies says one of the challenges with influenza is that there is evidence that infection does not always cause symptoms. “Research shows about one in four people may be infected with influenza during a moderate flu season, and the majority of those people may not know they have flu,” she says.
“This is one reason why immunisation is a key line of defence.”
The health burden of seasonal influenza in New Zealand varies from year to year and across the world, significant time and resource goes into increasing the effectiveness of these vaccinations, according to the Director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre at the University of Auckland, Associate Professor Nikki Turner.
“Vaccine effectiveness is difficult to accurately predict season-to-season and person-to-person,” Associate Professor Turner says.
“We know overall that when the vaccine types more closely match the circulating strains the vaccine is likely to be more effective. Each year, for the northern and southern hemisphere, there are meetings to decide what is the best prediction for circulating strains and therefore what is the best choice for the seasonal vaccine.
“The vaccines arriving in New Zealand for our winter season have a new updated AH3N2 strain in them, which is a better match and we hope that will give better effectiveness. The government-subsidised vaccines for this season also are quadrivalent (two A strains and two B strains), which should give better protection than the traditional trivalent that have only one B strain in them.”
In New Zealand, those at high risk of getting influenza, including those aged 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with chronic or serious health conditions, such as heart disease, cancer or severe asthma, can get their flu shot for free. It is available from general practices and many community pharmacies.

Oxford Women’s Health

A lifetime of good nutrition: Sara Widdowson of Oxford Women’s Health on eating your way to better health

Sara Widdowson
Sara Widdowson

As women’s bodies grow and change, nutritional needs change too. Sara Widdowson, a Nutrition Consultant and Dietitian at Oxford Women’s Health, shares her expert advice on staying healthy at every age and stage of life.

What are the top priorities for children and adolescents when it comes to good nutrition?

Children and adolescents are still growing and need lots of energy. Rather than filling them up with calorie-dense foods, keep the focus on nutrient-rich foods, such as colourful vegetables, lean meat and milk, to make sure they are getting all they need to thrive.
Encouraging children to listen to their bodies – like stopping eating when they’re full – helps to establish good eating habits that will set them up for life.
For young women, iron intake is particularly important. Meat, nuts, and leafy-green vegetables all contain iron.

What should pregnant women be eating to help improve the health of their baby?

Instead of ‘eating for two’, pregnant women should be eating food that is twice as healthy. ‘Quality over quantity’ is an easy way to think about it.
What mum puts in her body is really important for the baby’s development. Folate from foods such as dark green vegetables, beans and lentils helps to prevent neural defects, while iodine is important for brain development, for example.

Oxford Women’s Health

Do nutritional needs change when you are having a period?

Your basal-metabolic rate – how much energy you’re burning at rest – is higher when you are having a period. I encourage women not to avoid that hunger but to try and choose nutrient-dense foods. Instead of chocolate, try magnesium-rich options like nuts and seafood.

Which foods are beneficial for women going through menopause?

Oestrogen and progesterone drop during menopause, which is particularly detrimental to bone health. Upping your calcium intake by eating canned fish, soy products and calcium-rich milk is crucial during this time.
There’s evidence to suggest that foods like tofu, milk, chickpeas, flaxseeds and lentils can help to reduce menopause symptoms.

Do older people have different nutritional needs?

When you get older you lose your thirst receptors, which means you can be dehydrated and not know it. Have a jug of water or water bottles in your fridge, so you can make sure you are drinking enough.
Getting short doses of vitamin D from the sun every day is important for bone health. Deficiency in B12 is also very common in older people, so including foods like milk, eggs, fish and chicken in your diet is key.
The most important thing to do at any age is to eat a nutrient rich diet. Eat vegetables at every meal, if possible, and include ‘good fats’ like oily fish, avocado and flaxseed oil in your daily routine.

Duxton Dental

A healthy smile: Duxton Dental wants to make sure you have something to smile about

Let’s not forget our bottom teeth.

Duxton Dental

Research tells us that whether you had braces or not and whether you have wisdom teeth or not, your bottom front teeth will crowd with age. As the teeth concertina up at the front they can cause extra pressure onto the back of the top teeth when you bite together and then move or chip your upper teeth. Crooked teeth are more difficult to clean and your gum health can deteriorate.
With age you also show more of your bottom teeth and less of your top teeth as gravity takes its toll. So the bottom teeth are more visible when you talk or smile.
For these reasons it is now recommended internationally that the retainer wires that are placed after braces are left there forever and replaced if needed.
If you notice your bottom teeth crowding as an adult, modern orthodontics can correct the problem in as little as eight weeks. Often invisible braces are an option. Once the bottom teeth are straight, any chips or wear on the top and bottom teeth can be replaced and that lovely youthful smile can return.
Duxton Dental’s expert team can also discuss reliable tooth whitening options for the return of that extra sparkle.
As part of a very thorough new patient examination, Duxton Dental completes a smile assessment to discuss all your cosmetic concerns and options. For more information visit or phone 03-348 5488.


Early detection does matter: Molecheck and why you should get your skin checked sooner rather than later

Just like blood pressure, mammograms or a dental checkup, it’s important to monitor your skin’s health. As we say goodbye to summer, it’s time to tick off your skin check as well. Early detection matters.


We’ve enjoyed the sunshine, now we should check what damage it may have caused. Even though skin cancer is usually easy to spot and treat, certain types can be deadly when left untreated. Although anyone can develop a skin cancer, those with a history of high sun exposure (particularly sunburns) and fair skinned people are the most vulnerable. The facts are stark:

  • New Zealand has the highest melanoma incidence rate in the world;
  • Two in three New Zealanders will develop a skin cancer over their lifetime;
  • Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer;
  • Around 70,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma and other skin cancers in New Zealand every year;
  • About 500 New Zealanders die annually from skin cancer;
  • Most skin cancers can be cured with early diagnosis and treatment;
  • The sooner skin cancers are detected, the simpler the treatment and the more successful it is likely to be.

Early diagnosis is vital so it’s important to go to an expert who is trained in detecting skin cancer – a doctor at Molecheck.

Why Molecheck?

The skin cancer doctors at Molecheck have had extensive training in dermoscopy and skin cancer management. They aim to detect skin cancer at the earliest possible stage using a hand-held, surface microscope called a dermoscope.
Skin cancer can occur on any part of the skin, not just in moles. The Molecheck team uses the latest dermoscopy techniques to view structures beneath the skin surface (including tiny cancer blood vessels) which enables them to diagnose melanoma and other skin cancers at the very earliest possible stage, before they can be seen with the naked eye.
All Molecheck patients receive a thorough and comprehensive skin cancer and melanoma check. And as well as skin cancer detection, dermoscopy technology enables Molecheck doctors to confidently diagnose many types of benign growths, which avoids anxiety and unnecessary surgery.
Molecheck doctors aim to find any skin cancer at the first consultation. At this consultation, they may also treat pre-cancerous lesions with cryotherapy (also called cryosurgery). Some benign unsightly or unwanted spots, lumps and discolourations may also be able to be treated during the consultation.
Get to know your skin by checking it regularly— particularly if you are over 50, have a family history of skin cancer or have had any episodes of bad sunburn as a child. And if a spot has changed, becomes raised, is sore, itchy or scaly, or a new spot appears, it’s a good idea to get it Molechecked.
Find out more at or phone 03 355 5089 to make an appointment with the experienced team at Molecheck.

Immigration Express

An integral immigration role: Immigration Express is proud to be helping welcome much-needed workers and their families to NZ

Immigration Express is busy and buzzing like a beehive, and that’s just the way the team likes it. Proud of the role it plays in bringing overseas workers to Canterbury, Immigration Express knows that our rebuild progresses, our factories continue to produce and our cows get milked in part because of its contribution as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for immigration medicals.

Immigration Express
A ‘one-stop-shop’ for immigration medicals.

Portugese, Filipino, Cantonese, Mandarin and Shanghai-ese are spoken by the team which is friendly and professional through what can be a complex time for a new migrant and family.
The required X-rays, blood tests, biometrics and medicals are all done right there in the clinic which holds ‘Approved Panel Physicians for New Zealand Immigration’ status, and there is free parking outside the door. Hours are from 7am until 5pm but can be extended by special arrangement. The all-inclusive fee is $470 with no hidden extras and no charges for copies of your results.
Co-owner Daphne Durning says having recently gone up from three radiographers to five, the team is still busy and always looking for more doctors and medical staff. Daphne’s philosophy is for the business to fit around the team’s circumstances and families, not the other way around. “I always wanted a job that fitted around my life and couldn’t find that, so I have ensured it is integral to our own business,” Daphne says.
No wonder it’s such a happy place to visit and a great place to work.

Dentures Plus

Reason to smile: Dentures Plus want you to know that dentures shouldn’t negatively impact your daily life

People may not be aware of any problems associated with their dentures. When issues develop slowly over time, they adapt and think it is normal.

Dentures Plus

“Common issues we see with denture wearers are sore or irritated gums, difficulty eating properly, loss of lip or facial support, more wrinkles around the mouth, sore jaw, increased headaches, loose or slipping dentures, and sores at the corners of the lips,” says Ryan Carlton of Dentures Plus.
He says pressure and or rubbing can be quite painful, usually a result of chewing, but also clenching of teeth or bruxism (grinding the teeth). Other concerns may be hard foods, like small seeds getting underneath dentures, or denture teeth that need adjusting, relining or replacement.
Worn or ill-fitting dentures can make it hard to chew and eat properly. As the teeth flatten off over time, it’s harder to chew food effectively. Worn teeth also lose their height and bring the lower jaw up further, compressing the lips and giving the face a sunken-in look, more wrinkles and mouth sores. “Dentures need to be replaced to resolve this. Worn teeth can also lead to a sore jaw and headaches, as it puts more pressure on the joint and surrounding muscles.
“Many patients worry new dentures will make them look ‘horsey’ or ‘all teeth’, but although they may show a little more teeth, they should look natural – like they belong to the face. At Dentures Plus we make sure each patient is very happy with the final result, including their look and smile.”


Moorhouse Medical Centre

Multi-disciplinary medicine: Moorhouse Medical Centre

People constantly come and go through the doors of the large red building that is the Moorhouse Medical Centre. The activity hints at just how busy this long-established practice is. It has been a feature of Christchurch’s central city for more than 20 years – first of all in Washington Way and now in its current location on Pilgrim Place. During those years it has expanded its range of services for patients to reflect the needs of its community.

Moorhouse Medical Centre

“New patients and former patients are finding us now that central Christchurch is being re-established,” Moorhouse Medical Clinical Director Dr Neil Beumelburg says. “It’s exciting to be a part of that rebirth after a difficult few years and our medical team is growing to reflect the increased demand. Right now we are accepting new enrolments.”
What draws patients to Moorhouse Medical Centre is the diversity of care this practice offers. Besides the usual general practice services there is a travel clinic and a business health service.
The medical team of 22 nurses and eight GPs also carry out immigration medicals, skin checks and minor surgical services. “We are a truly multi-disciplinary practice and it is the diversity of our work that is so interesting. One day is never the same as the next.”
In addition to its general practice aspects Moorhouse Medical’s other major arm is ‘urgent care’, providing comprehensive medical and nursing services for accidents and medical issues.
“Anyone who has a medical problem or injury can walk into our clinic at any time from 8am to 8pm seven days a week, including public holidays. We provide an alternative for casual patients and after hours care besides the 24 Hour Clinic. No appointment is necessary in these circumstances to make things as easy as possible. We have X-ray facilities on site which enables us to offer fracture and soft tissue injury clinics, as well as musculoskeletal consultations and we also have physiotherapy available. Treatment of open wounds – cuts requiring stitches – is provided free, as is fracture care, apart from the initial consultation.”

Moorhouse Medical Centre

Further adding to its credentials, Moorhouse Medical Centre is part of a Christchurch Primary Health Organisation (PHO), along with Riccarton Clinic, Ara Institute and the University of Canterbury. It is also a teaching practice for the Royal College of General Practitioners and for the Christchurch School of Medicine. “But above all, we want to be seen as a patient-centred practice with a professional and friendly approach providing the very best of care.”
Moorhouse Medical Centre is open for appointments from 8am to 6pm weekdays and you can also be seen as a casual patient without an appointment 8am to 8pm, seven days a week. Phone 03-365 7900 or visit

Lady Wigram Retirement Village

Unique model of retirement living: Lady Wigram Retirement Village

When it comes to sourcing retirement facilities for your loves ones, not surprisingly quality is front of your mind. As soon as you arrive at the Lady Wigram Retirement Village, it’s clear this is a unique model of retirement living and one that is all about lifestyle.

Lady Wigram Retirement Village

Owned by the Golden Healthcare Group, the concept for the $100 million retirement village was launched post-quake, with the first stage of 101 villas opening in 2015.
This year the development at 210 Kittyhawk Avenue has moved one step closer to completion, with the opening of 16 new apartments and a community centre dubbed The Club House, featuring a restaurant, bar,
billiard room, movie theatre and library.
The next stage of Lady Wigram is also now well underway, and will offer another 14 apartments, a swimming pool, spa and gym. When completed, there will be 73 apartments, a rest home, a dementia facility and a hospital.

Lady Wigram Retirement Village
Golden Healthcare Group purchased the 5.7ha Lady Wigram site in 2013 from Ngāi Tahu Property, the developer of The Landing – the $40 million central hub of the Wigram Skies subdivision, at the heart of which is an architecturally designed town square and a collection of restaurants, cafés, retail and mixed-use community space. Not only is Lady Wigram a short walk from The Landing, it is also just a short drive to Hornby Mall, the Hornby Working Men’s Club and the city.
Everything about the retirement village speaks of the quality and attention to detail this service provider brings to the table, with this resort-style living piquing the interest of a younger demographic.
“In our experience, a lot of people are choosing to move into retirement village life earlier because they recognise the benefits of the ease of living and it allows them greater freedom and more social interaction,” owner John Tooby says.
“This means that it’s really important for us to provide amenities that help residents to socialise and keep active. More and more, retirement villages are becoming communities within their own right.”
Golden Healthcare Group already provides dementia, aged care and mental health support at seven other facilities, employing 259 staff and cares for approximately 350 residents.

Christchurch Vascular Group

Aneurysm risk & assessment: Christchurch Vascular Group want to help you look after yourself and your loved ones

It’s a fancy word, but an aneurysm is simply a dilated blood vessel. As the blood vessel dilates, there is an increased risk of complications such as thrombosis or rupture.

Christchurch Vascular Group

If the abdomen’s main blood vessel – the aorta – becomes dilated or greater than 30mm, it is called an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm or AAA, for short. While the risk of rupture is very low for aneurysms smaller than 55mm, this risk increases with larger aneurysms and those increasing quickly in size.
With asymptomatic disease, it’s important to understand the risks of doing nothing versus the risk of intervention. Not surprisingly, the risk of death from rupture within the community is extremely high, whereas the risk from elective repair is relatively low, with most cases only requiring minimally invasive surgery.
Unlike the UK or Australia, there is no National Aneurysm screening programme in New Zealand despite a recent observational study of more than 4,000 individuals showing the prevalence of aortic aneurysms in men (ages 65-74) was as high as 9.1 percent and an astonishing 16.8 percent for men aged 75-84, increasing further to 22 percent in the over-85 age group.
While not everyone with an aneurysm requires surgery, a simple and relatively inexpensive test can be performed to exclude an aneurysm and determine size when present.
At Christchurch Vascular Group, consultant specialist Vascular Surgeon Peter Laws or one of his consultant colleagues can arrange for an ultrasound scan at their clinic in St George’s Hospital or at your chosen provider. Peter can then discuss treatment options or continued observation as required. Why not make an appointment today for peace of mind.
Contact Christchurch Vascular Group on 03-365 4502 or email


The environmental experts: how local company MBC are making it their goal to protect people and their investments from the threat of asbestos and mould

Encompassing the surroundings and conditions in which we live and work, our environments are some of the most important considerations when it comes to our overall health and wellness.


Mould and asbestos are two of the most common environmental hazards, ones which we are all too familiar with on a local level as our city rebuilds, from the ground up.
However, it is comforting to know that locally owned firm MBC has the experience and know how to make your home asbestos and mould free.
Owned by Mark Hamilton and Felicity Drennan, MBC specialises in a wide range of tasks that cater specifically to managing the environment, which sometimes is no easy task.
A Licenced Asbestos Removalist, MBC is able to undertake any asbestos removal project, large or small. With years of experience in public, commercial and residential sectors, no job is too much for the team.
With a strong record of providing successful mould removal, MBC can also provide a simple clean through to a complete strip out, with competitive rates combined with superior workmanship.
Asbestos and mould removal services are complemented by chemical decontamination, contaminated land remediation, erosion and sediment control.
For further information on asbestos or mould removal, any of MBC’s other environmental services, or to get a free quote, visit or phone 03-354 4377.