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Biggest uptake of influenza vaccine ever this season

Hon Dr David Clark

Minister of Health

6th July 2018

Media Statement

 

Health Minister Dr David Clark is pleased that more New Zealanders than ever before have protected themselves from influenza this year.

"More than 1.29 million doses of influenza vaccine have been distributed so far, more than any previous influenza season", David Clark said.

"Despite the later start to the programme, around 100,000 extra doses have been distributed compared with this date last year.  This is an enormous credit to the hard work of vaccinators at general practices, pharmacies and other health providers around the country over the last few weeks.

"For those who are greater risk of influenza and have not yet been vaccinated, it's not too late to be protected before the peak of the season."

Influenza vaccine takes up to two weeks to provide full protection, and influenza levels usually increase to winter levels during July.

"In an average year, it's estimated influenza kills around 400 New Zealanders, many of whom have other health conditions that make them more vulnerable to complications from the disease.  Australia and the northern hemisphere have had particularly deadly influenza seasons over the last twelve months.  New Zealand's influenza vaccines protect against the four strains that were most prevalent overseas", David Clark said.

Influenza immunisation is free for pregnant women, those aged 65 and over, and those under 65 with heart disease, severe asthma, diabetes, cancer and other serious conditions that put them at greater risk of complications from influenza.  This includes children aged under five who have previously been hospitalised for a respiratory illness.

The vaccine is available from general practices, but pregnant women and those aged 65 and over can also get immunised free at many community pharmacies - this is a useful option for people who may find it difficult to set aside time for an appointment during work hours.

Background information

Influenza vaccine distribution by year:

2013

1,253,922

2014

1,206,573

2015

1,211,152

2016

1,244,002

2017

1,217,494

2018

1,294,907*

*as at close of business 2 July 2018. Other years measured in late October.

 

Contact:
Julian Robins
021 867 534
julian.robins@parliament.govt.nz

Last updated: August 29, 2018