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New Zealanders well-informed of bird flu risk

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister of Health


3 February 2006 Media Statement

New Zealanders well-informed of bird flu risk

Three out of five New Zealanders think New Zealand is taking the threat of an influenza pandemic 'seriously enough' while nearly two-thirds have seen information on how to prepare for a pandemic, according to figures released by Health Minister Pete Hodgson today.

The TNS global phone survey of almost 1000 New Zealanders – commissioned by the Ministry of Health – included a series of questions on public awareness and the level of preparedness for a pandemic.

"It's clear that the majority of New Zealanders have access to good information about a possible flu pandemic," Pete Hodgson said. "It's also good to see that New Zealanders are digesting the information in a calm, reasoned way.

"I'm pleased that the combined work of communities, business leaders and public health officials has led to a well-informed public discussion on the threat of a pandemic."

The data also shows that while public awareness is high, most New Zealanders have not taken steps to prepare themselves for a pandemic. Around 32 per cent of those surveyed have made preparations, with the majority of prepared households having stocked an emergency supply kit.

"While most people have seen or heard information about pandemic planning, we need to encourage people to start putting some of the simple measures that will make a difference into place, like having an emergency supplies kit."

The Ministry of Health will be stepping up its public awareness campaign over the next few months. The campaign began with public health messages on radio stations and will be extended to television commercials on TV1, TV2 and TV3.

Family Health Diary, which screens on TV1 and TV2, will also feature information on how to prepare from March 19. The advertising will emphasise the simple things people can do to try and stop the spread of influenza, like basic hygiene and stocking of emergency supplies.

There will also be a nationwide mail out to 1.4 million households, which starts on March 20 and will include a brochure covering the key messages and a magnet (with the ministry's 0800 number and website details).

Preliminary survey results are attached.

ENDS

Ministry of Health
Public Preparedness for Influenza Epidemic Omnibus Questions
Topline Report
January 2006
1301957

Margin of error: A sample size of n=957 has an associated margin of error at the 50 percent level of +/- 3.1 percent expressed at a 95% confidence level.
Every estimate (mean or proportion) has a different margin of error depending on (a) its magnitude and (b) its standard deviation (if using means). It is common research practice to outline the worst case scenario which is always calculated using a proportion of 50 percent. That means if you are estimating anything where the result is less than or more than 50 percent you will in fact achieve a higher precision level on that estimate (i.e. a lower margin of error).


1. Have you seen any information on how to prepare for an influenza pandemic?

Nearly two-thirds of New Zealanders (65%) have seen information on how to prepare for an influenza pandemic. Just over one third of New Zealanders (34%) have not seen any information.

%
Yes 65
No 34
Don’t know 1
Base (n=) 957


2. Perception of New Zealand’s response to the possible influenza pandemic.

Three in five people (60%) consider New Zealand is taking the possibility of an influenza pandemic ‘seriously enough’.

Nearly one fifth of people (17%) consider New Zealand is taking it ‘too seriously’, while one fifth (19%) consider the possibility is being taken ‘not seriously enough’.

Is New Zealand taking the possibility of an influenza pandemic…

%
Too seriously 17
Seriously enough 60
Not seriously enough 19
Don’t know 4
Base (n=) 957


3. Are you doing anything to specifically prepare yourself or your household for an influenza pandemic?

Approximately one third of New Zealanders (32%) are doing something to specifically prepare for an influenza pandemic.

Two thirds of New Zealanders (67%) are not doing anything specifically to prepare for an influenza pandemic.

%
Yes 32
No 67
Don’t know 1
Base (n=) 957


4. What have you or your household done to prepare?

Of those who have done something to prepare (n=307), the most common spontaneously mentioned measure is an ‘emergency supplies kit’ (46%).

Other spontaneously mentioned preparation measures include ‘making a plan to deal with having to stay home for several weeks’ (27%), ‘having a flu jab or vaccination’ (11%) or ‘brushing up on hygiene’ (8%).
Please note that in this question there is a large amount (38%) of responses that have not been coded so the figures may subsequently change.

%
Got an emergency supplies kit, including food and water to last for up to a week 46
Made a plan if you and your household have to stay at home for several weeks during a pandemic e.g. including who could help you with food and supplies 27
Had a flu jab/ flu vaccination 11
Brushing up on hygiene 8
Other 38
Base (n=) 307


5. Prompted preparedness measures.

New Zealanders who had done something to prepare for an influenza pandemic were asked whether they had undertaken two specific actions:

a) Made a plan in case you and your household have to stay at home for several weeks during a pandemic?
b) Got an emergency supplies kit, including food and water to last for up to a week?

When prompted, a high proportion (86%) of New Zealanders, who have done something to prepare for an influenza pandemic, have ‘prepared an emergency supplies kit’ and three in five (59%) have made a plan in case they have to stay at home for several weeks during a pandemic.

Have you…

%
a) Got an emergency supplies kit, including food and water to last for up to a week? 86
b) Made a plan in case you and your household have to stay at home for several weeks during a pandemic?
IF NECESSARY READ …that is, a plan including who could help you with food and supplies 59
Base: (n=) 290*
*Excludes those who did state what they had specifically done to prepare for an influenza pandemic (n=17).

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