Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew is encouraging anyone who has not yet been immunised against influenza to do so before the winter season peaks in late July to early August.
“The vaccine takes up to two weeks to take effect, so now is the time to take action to avoid catching and spreading influenza,” says Mrs Goodhew.
“Every year in New Zealand people are hospitalised with influenza. It can cause serious complications and death, even in previously healthy people.”
The influenza vaccine is free until 31 July for people aged 65 years and over, pregnant women, and people with long term health conditions such as server asthma.
For everyone else aged 6 months or older, the vaccine is available for a small charge either from their GP or some pharmacies.
To date, almost 1.18 million flu vaccines have been distributed across the country. This compares to over 1.25 million doses distributed last year.
Even though 2013 was one of the mildest influenza seasons in 20 years, 782 people were hospitalised with influenza.
If you are at higher risk, or are concerned about your symptoms, it is important to seek advice early from your doctor, nurse or Healthline (0800 611 116), to see if you need treatment – even if you have been seen before. Other serious conditions can also look like the flu, including meningococcal disease.
Media contact: Angela Kenealy 021 220 0129