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Free flu vaccine for young children with respiratory illness

Hon Tony Ryall
Minister of Health

20 March 2013 Media Statement
Free flu vaccine for young children with respiratory illness

Health Minister Tony Ryall has today announced children under the age of five with significant respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, will be able to get the influenza vaccine free from 1 April.

“Children with respiratory illness are most at risk from suffering serious
complications from influenza. In previous years many of these children have been admitted to hospital as a result of the flu,” says Mr Ryall.

“Vaccination is the best protection from influenza and PHARMAC’s decision to extend the flu vaccine will reduce the likelihood of these young children ending up in hospital with complications from getting the flu.”

Children aged from six months and up to five years of age who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness will be eligible for the government funded influenza vaccine.

The 2013 influenza immunisation campaign started last week.

“We want more New Zealanders to be protected against this serious disease and I encourage you to get your flu vaccination, especially if you are in one of the at risk groups,” says Mr Ryall.

“New Zealanders over the age of 65, pregnant women and people with ongoing health conditions or heart problems are also able to get the flu vaccine for free.

“PHARMAC’s management of vaccines is already proving successful. This is the second positive decision on vaccines, following the decision to widen access to whooping cough vaccine from 1 January 2013 to pregnant women.”

PHARMAC estimates extending the influenza vaccine to this group of children will cost District Health Boards an additional $1.2 million over five years. Current five year spending on influenza vaccine is around $23 million.


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