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An extra month to get free influenza vaccine

Media Statement: Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman, Minister of Health

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says this year’s seasonal influenza immunisation programme will be extended to the end of August.

“While we’ve had great uptake of the influenza vaccine this year, there may be people who haven’t got around to getting immunised,” says Dr Coleman.

“To help ensure New Zealanders have the protection they need, we are extending the immunisation programme for eligible people until 31 August.

“Ministry of Health surveillance data suggests that influenza rates have not yet peaked this winter. However, if levels start to increase in late winter as they did last year, it’s important that people can still access the vaccine.

“To date almost 1.23 million influenza vaccines have been distributed across the country, protecting over a quarter of our population. The vaccine has so far been a good match for the influenza strains in circulation.”

The influenza vaccine is free for people aged 65 years and over, pregnant women, people with long term health conditions such as severe asthma, and children under five who have been hospitalised for a respiratory illness. It takes two weeks to provide full protection.

Those who aren’t eligible for free immunisation can purchase it from general practices and some pharmacies.

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

–        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).

Media contact: Kirsty Taylor-Doig 021 838 372

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