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It’s not too late to be immunised against the flu

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says there is still time for people to get vaccinated before the worst of the flu season arrives.

“It takes up to two weeks to develop immunity, so it is best to be vaccinated before influenza spreads,” says Dr Coleman.

“1.16 million vaccines have been distributed so far which is a great result given the rollout was delayed a few weeks by changes to the vaccine strains.

“The health sector has worked hard over a shorter timeframe to deliver the same number of vaccine doses as in recent years.”

Latest data shows there is some influenza activity which is normal for this time of year, but this is expected to increase in the coming weeks. The most common types of influenza currently in circulation are matched by the 2015 season influenza vaccine strains.

The most common strain is A(H3N2) which is normally associated with higher levels of hospital admissions and deaths, particularly amongst older age groups. This year’s vaccine protects against a new A(H3N2) strain.

Influenza vaccinations are free for New Zealanders from a doctor or nurse until the end of July if you are aged 65 or over, pregnant, or have long-term health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease (including asthma), kidney disease and most cancers.

People who are not eligible for the free programme can purchase a vaccination from their general practitioner or vaccinating pharmacist.

For more information go to: www.fightflu.co.nz.

Media contact: Kirsty Taylor-Doig 021 838 372

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