Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew is reminding people eligible for a free flu vaccine to get in before the annual immunisation programme ends on 31 July.
“The number of flu cases reported by GPs and in hospitals has already starting to climb and we’re expecting this to continue,” says Mrs Goodhew.
“Influenza puts hundreds of New Zealanders in hospital every year, and keeps many more off work and school. For example, pregnant women are 18 times more likely to be hospitalised with the flu than women who are not pregnant.
“The influenza vaccine is the best protection available against this serious illness.
“Over 1.18 million New Zealanders have so far been vaccinated against influenza this year, either by taking up the government’s offer of a free vaccine for eligible groups, getting vaccinated at their workplace, or paying for it themselves.
“But, there are still people who are eligible for the free vaccine who have not yet taken up the offer. With winter well and truly here, now is the time to be sure you’re protected.”
The influenza vaccine is funded for those who are over 65 years old, pregnant, regularly use an asthma preventer, have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, cancer or another serious medical condition, or are aged under 5 years and have been hospitalised for a respiratory illness, or have a history of significant respiratory illness.
It takes up to two weeks for the influenza vaccine to be effective, so it is important to be vaccinated as soon as possible.
If you are concerned about your symptoms it is important to seek advice early from your doctor, nurse or Healthline (0800 611 116).
Media contact: Angela Kenealy 021 220 0129