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One million doses of influenza vaccine distributed

More than one million doses of seasonal influenza vaccine have now been distributed and The Ministry of Health is encouraging even more New Zealanders to get vaccinated.

“Every year people die from influenza. We are particularly encouraging those people who are over 65 years old, pregnant or have a long term health condition to get vaccinated, as these groups have a higher risk of developing serious complications,” says Director of Public Health, Dr Caroline McElnay.

“Immunisation is your best defence against flu and it’s really positive that more than one million doses have been delivered. 2018 set a new record for influenza vaccine distribution and this year’s distribution numbers are closely aligned.”

“Getting vaccinated before the winter peak of influenza arrives is important for making sure as many of us as possible are protected, as it can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to provide the best protection. It’s a busy time of year for the health sector as they work to protect the public against seasonal influenza in a tight timeframe.”

“People aged 65 and older are eligible for free influenza immunisation, because the disease often has a more significant impact as you get older and your immune system wanes. Even if you are still active and independent, for older people a bout of the flu can mean the difference between ongoing good health and increasing frailty.

"Influenza immunisation is also free for other New Zealanders at high risk of complications, which includes those with long term health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease, kidney disease, cancer, as well as pregnant women. Children aged 4 and under, with a history of serious respiratory illness, are also entitled to free influenza vaccination," says Dr McElnay.

General practices provide the majority of free influenza immunisations, with vaccinating pharmacists also able to provide free immunisation to those aged 65 years and over and pregnant women.

Many employers also provide free vaccination for their staff. Those who aren't eligible for free immunisation can purchase it from vaccinating pharmacies (for those aged 13 years or older) or general practices.

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