Flu fighters

Commonly known as the flu, the influenza virus has taken a pretty big chunk out of the workforce this winter. In fact, this highly contagious disease infects one in four New Zealanders each year.

Aches, fevers, runny noses and a general lack of energy are one thing. But when something can leave you bedridden or even lead to more serious problems, prevention is always better than the cure. 

For over three years Farmlands has been providing voluntary, free flu vaccinations to its employees. In 2018 a subsidised vaccination offer was extended to shareholders to protect themselves, their families and their livelihoods.

In April this year, Farmlands and its chosen occupational health provider, Fit For Work, set up vaccination clinics at 16 locations across the country and their nurses administered over 600 shots to bolster immunity. A further 100-plus shareholders and staff received their flu vaccine thanks to a Farmlands-supplied voucher.

Farmlands General Manager Safety and Wellbeing, Katrina Berry understands that time and money are precious commodities for shareholders. “By offering subsidised vaccinations, our purpose was brought to life in supporting shareholders to keep themselves healthy. It can be hard to get off the farm for any period, so by offering on-site vaccinations at selected Farmlands stores it made it easy for shareholders to take advantage of the opportunity.”

Fit For Work provide a range of allied health and occupational medicine services to customers all across the country.  One of those giving the vaccinations back in April at the Farmlands Waterloo Road store was Registered Nurse, Emma Gallagher. Originally from Ireland, Emma is postgraduate trained in Safety and Health at Work. “As a nurse in Ireland I was exceptionally aware of situations that could lead to poor health, both mentally and physically. Unsociable hours, shiftwork, poor food preparation and limited access to healthy food options all play a part. Some of these will be similar to the situations farmers find themselves in.”

In Emma’s eyes, a major benefit was how the community came together during an event like this. “In the 20 minutes or so after the shots were given, shareholders had to wait and see if there were any adverse effects. It was then they began to realise they were sitting with people who are their neighbours, or live just down the road from them but had never laid eyes on one another.

We even had whole families coming together who chose to do a bit of shopping and then get together for a coffee. There’s never normally the time to do that sort of thing, which is crucial to good mental health.” Emma also stressed that these events are a great opportunity to talk about things like winter wellness and annual check-ups.

Katrina says that Farmlands is always thinking of ways it can support farmers, growers and their wha-nau to be the best they can be. “Noone wants to be out of action for days on end due to the flu. This is particularly pertinent for those who are self-employed or working for a small business,” she says.