Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says it’s still not too late to vaccinate against influenza with the free vaccine programme further extended until Friday 11 September.
“With influenza at relatively high levels in our communities, it’s still worth getting vaccinated. Whilst the latest data shows a drop in influenza cases, we could still see cases increase again,” says Dr Coleman.
“Typically every two to three years we see higher influenza numbers. The latest surveillance data from ESR shows 124 (123.7) cases per 100,000 population, compared with 26 cases per 100,000 at the same time last year.
“The health sector is accustomed to increased demand over winter. DHBs are closely monitoring capacity and resources, having additional staff in place and being able to free beds up as required.
“For the third year in a row more than 1.2 million doses of influenza vaccine have been distributed across the country. I would like to recognise and thank the sector for their successful management of the vaccination programme.”
The vaccine is free for people aged 65 years and over, pregnant women, those with long-term health conditions such as severe asthma, and children under five years who have been hospitalised for a respiratory illness. People with Down Syndrome and those with cochlear implants are also eligible for the vaccine.
It is particularly recommended for pregnant women as the vaccine offers protection to both mother and baby.
The vaccine is also available for purchase from general practices and many pharmacies for those who are not eligible for the free vaccine.
For free health advice, call Healthline 0800 611 116.
Media contact: Angela Kenealy 021 220 0129