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Minister launches flu immunisation campaign

Minister launches flu immunisation campaign

Health Minister Tony Ryall today launched the annual influenza immunisation campaign at Wellington Regional Hospital’s high-risk maternity clinic.

“The government is committed to increasing influenza protection in New Zealand, especially among those groups most at risk of complications from this serious disease. This year, there is a particular focus on protecting pregnant women,” says Mr Ryall.

“Research shows that healthy, pregnant women are up to 18 times more likely to be admitted to hospital when suffering from influenza than non-pregnant women. Influenza immunisation in pregnancy also offers protection to the newborn baby during the first few months of its life,” says Mr Ryall.

The influenza vaccine for the 2014 season includes two new strains based upon recommendations from the World Health Organization. The composition is:

- A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus
- A/Texas/50/2012 (H3N2)-like virus (New)
- B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus (New)

Mr Ryall says influenza immunisation is free for New Zealanders at high-risk of complications, and is accessible from GPs or nurses as soon as the vaccine is available.

“Those at high-risk include pregnant women, people aged 65 and over, and anyone under 65 years of age with long-term health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease (including asthma), kidney disease and most cancers,” says Mr Ryall.

“Others can receive influenza vaccinations at surgeries and some pharmacies for a small charge. Many employers also provide free vaccination to their employees,” says Mr Ryall.

The publicly funded vaccine is available until the end of July 2014.

“Ministry of Health data shows last year a record 1.25 million doses of vaccine were distributed in New Zealand,” says Mr Ryall.

“This resulted in an estimated 30 percent of the population being immunised by the end of July, when the government-subsidised immunisation campaign finished,” says Mr Ryall.

Ends

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