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Pandemic Influenza (H1N1) 09 Swine Flu

Pandemic Influenza (H1N1) 09 Swine Flu - Update 169

Internationally the most intense pandemic activity continues to be centred in a few places in the world such as North Africa, in Southern Asia and in parts of East and Southeast Europe. In other parts of the world, activity is declining, however, there is still transmission of the pandemic H1N1 virus, so it has not disappeared.

In New Zealand GP consultations and calls to Healthline for influenza-like illness remain low which is what we'd expect to see at this time of year. The Ministry of Health continues to monitor for any early signs of an upswing in influenza - at the moment the rates of pandemic influenza remain at very low levels.

Vaccine update

This year the Ministry of Health is taking a phased approach to protecting New Zealanders from influenza.

The first phase, 'Earlybird Protection' kicks off next month when a single-strain pandemic H1N1 vaccine will be offered to those most at risk of getting influenza and developing complications. Those eligible for this vaccine include frontline healthcare workers as well as people under 65 years of age (including children) with certain medical conditions (as for seasonal influenza), pregnant women, people who are morbidly obese, and all children aged 6 months to five years, who are enrolled with designated GP practices that have high numbers of patients who are Maori, Pacific or from high deprivation areas.

The second phase is the seasonal influenza programme. This year the seasonal influenza vaccine contains the pandemic H1N1 strain along with two prevalent influenza strains. Three suppliers are providing vaccine to New Zealand, and it's expected to be available at GPs early to mid March. As in previous years, the seasonal influenza vaccine is available free for many people including anyone aged over 65, and all other people who meet the criteria for having a serious on-going medical condition. In addition, pregnant women, morbidly obese people and children from certain GP practices (as outlined above) are also eligible to receive the vaccine free of charge this year. Further information on who's eligible for the free vaccine is available on the Ministry of Health website:

Weekly consultation rates for Influenza-like illness in New Zealand 2008, 2009, 2010

Click to enlarge

International situation

The World Health Organization reports that as at 10 January 2010 worldwide more than 208 countries and overseas territories and communities have reported laboratory-confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009, including at least 13,554 deaths.

More information on the global progress of the pandemic is available on the WHO website:

The most intense areas of pandemic influenza virus transmission currently are in parts of North Africa, South Asia, and east and southeastern Europe.
The Global Influenza Surveillance Network (GISN) continues monitoring the global circulation of influenza viruses, including pandemic, seasonal and other influenza viruses infecting, or wiht the potential to infect, humans including seasonal influenza. For more information on this refer to the weekly virology update on the WHO website.

Influenza A (H1N1) Swine Flu


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