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1.2m New Zealanders protected against the flu

Statement issued by Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman, Minister of Health 

10 June 2016

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says 1.2 million New Zealanders have been immunised against the flu this year.

“For the fourth year in a row we’ve reach our target of distributing 1.2 million doses of the influenza vaccine across the country,” says Dr Coleman.

“It is a credit to general practices, pharmacists and workplace vaccinators that we’ve reached this milestone so early into winter, two months earlier than the past two years.

“By being immunised, we not only protect ourselves, but we help to ensure we don’t pass on influenza to our families, friends and colleagues.

“This year the influenza vaccine has two new strains to ensure New Zealanders are better protected this winter from the strains of influenza circulating around the world.

“Influenza rates here have not yet reached winter levels. As the vaccine can take up to a fortnight to provide full protection it’s worth getting sooner rather than later.

“One of the ongoing challenges of the influenza programme is improving immunisation coverage for groups who are eligible for free immunisation, particularly among people with ongoing medical conditions.”

Influenza immunisation is free for New Zealanders at high risk of complications, through their general practice. Many employers also provide free vaccination for their staff. Those who aren’t eligible for free immunisation can purchase it from general practices and some pharmacies.

High risk groups include those with long term health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease, kidney disease, cancer, as well as pregnant women and people aged 65 and over.

Media contact: Angela Kenealy 021 220 0129

Notes to editors

The influenza vaccine for the 2016 season includes two new strains based on recommendations from the World Health Organization. The vaccine is composed of:

–       A/California/7/2009 (H1N1) – like virus

–       A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2) – like virus (new)

–       B/Brisbane/60/2008 – like virus (new)

For further information go to www.fightflu.co.nz or www.health.govt.nz/influenza or call 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863).

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