News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Influenza – last chance for free immunisation

June 23, 2008

Influenza can be deadly – last chance for free immunisation

Around 22 New Zealanders die each year on average as a result of contracting influenza, warns the National Influenza Strategy Group (NISG)1 whose free influenza vaccination campaign ends for this season on June 30.

“Thousands of New Zealanders who are at high risk of complications from influenza, which can lead to death, have less than a week to get free immunisation. We urge them to take this disease seriously and get their best protection from influenza,” comments NISG spokesperson Dr Lance Jennings.

Influenza immunisation is free from a doctor or nurse for people 65 years and over or people under 65 with a long-term health condition such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease, kidney disease and most cancers until this deadline.

“Despite an overall increase in vaccine uptake so far this season, we are concerned that too few people with chronic health conditions may not have been protected by influenza vaccine. It is vital that they get the vaccine soon as it takes up to two weeks to develop immunity,” comments Dr Jennings.

The latest ESR influenza surveillance report2 shows influenza cases are higher than at the same time in 2007, with the highest consultation rates in Northland and Rotorua.

“And the predicted colder weather this week will provide ideal conditions for the influenza virus to survive and be passed on,” says Dr Jennings.

“This is traditionally the time of year when we see influenza cases rise. Fortunately, there is still time for people to get free immunisation,” he comments.


Background Information on Influenza:

Influenza is a potentially serious viral infection – much worse than a cold. Complications of the illness can last for weeks, often confines you to bed and can carry the risk of permanent damage or death.

The influenza vaccine available in New Zealand cannot give you influenza as the vaccine does not contain any live viruses.

Even when you are immunised you should practise good hygiene to prevent the spread of the infection. You should cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing and then wash your hands. You should always use disposable tissues and stay at home when sick.

You can only be immune to a particular strain of the virus if you’ve had it before. And, as the virus strains keep changing each year, most people are unlikely to have natural immunity. That’s why annual immunisation is important to provide protection from the strains most likely to circulate in New Zealand. The inactivated influenza vaccine provides the best protection against influenza.

The influenza vaccine composition for New Zealand for 2008 is:

o an A/Solomon Islands/3/2006 (H1N1)-like virus;
o an A/Brisbane/10/2007 (H3N2)-like virus;
o a B/Florida/4/2006-like virus.

For further information go to or or call 0800 IMMUNE 0800 466 863.

1National Influenza Strategy Group (NISG)
NISG was formed in 2000 by the Ministry of Health to increase public awareness of influenza, its seriousness and the importance of immunisation to prevent the disease.

2 ESR Surveillance report

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

Kakī: World’s Rarest Wading Bird Released In Mackenzie Basin

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says the birds will add to the 60 released into the Tasman valley earlier this month, significantly boosting the wild population. More>>


IHC Tribute: Colin Meads

"While Colin is best known for rugby, to us he is one of a small number of distinguished IHC New Zealand Life Members recognised for their significant support for people with intellectual disabilities," says IHC Chief Executive Ralph Jones. More>>


Howard Davis Review: Tilting at Turbines - The Trip to Spain

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon have now both broken the Big Fifty barrier, which seems to have brought a whole new level of angst to their midlife adventures ... More>>

Review: A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

The Royal New Zealand Ballet has accepted the challenge of this heart-touching tragedy and largely succeeded. More>>


NZ's First Male IAAF Gold: Tom Walsh's Historic Shot Put Victory

Although feeling very sore but with a great feeling Tom Walsh took his place as number one on the victory dais to receive his much deserved gold medal. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Q&A: Hard To Find Books

"Unfortunately we are in crisis and this friendly dinosaur faces extinction… Our only hope is to try and raise funds to buy the building and restore it to its glory, either fully funded or with a viable deposit." More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland