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Influenza Vaccination Programme On Track

Media Release
13 April 2005

Influenza vaccination programme on track

The 2005 Influenza vaccination programme is on track to start on April 18, as planned, and will be extended by one month to give health professionals more time to immunise.

The programme, which usually finishes on June 30 every year, will now run until July 31. The Ministry of Health encourages early vaccination.

Ministry of Health spokesperson Dr Alison Roberts said that when details of the influenza plan were announced on March 22, the Ministry wanted to give certainty about the programme to all New Zealanders, as well as health professionals delivering the vaccine.

``I'm pleased to confirm that work has proceeded to schedule and the vaccine Vaxigrip will be available from April 18,'' she said.

``Vaxigrip will be used to protect healthy New Zealanders aged under 65 years who choose to be immunised against influenza. It has now been gazetted for use, which means doctors and vaccinators can prescribe it as soon as it's sent to them. Distribution is starting today and all surgeries should have received their first orders of the vaccine by the end of next week (Friday 22 April). "

``We will also have enough of the full-strength vaccines to start the free immunisation programme to high-risk groups from April 26, as planned. GPs and vaccinators will then be able to start immunising those people eligible for the free influenza vaccination programme. We expect that high-risk children and those adults with heart or lung conditions, particularly older people, will be among the first to be vaccinated.''

People eligible for the free influenza vaccination programme are those aged 65 years and over, as well as adults and children with certain chronic conditions. Healthy people under the age of 65 pay the full cost of vaccination, although some may be funded by their employer.

ENDS

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