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Free influenza vaccine programme ends soon

Free influenza vaccine programme ends soon

Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew is encouraging those eligible for a free flu vaccine to get in quick, with the programme due to wrap-up on 31 August.

The seasonal flu jab is free for people aged 65 years and over, pregnant women, people with long term health conditions such as severe asthma, and children under five years who have been hospitalised for a respiratory illness. In Canterbury, it is also free for those aged under 18.

“For everyone else aged 6 months or older, the vaccine is available for a small charge either from their general practice or local pharmacies offering vaccinations,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“This winter A-H1N1 appears to be the most common strain of influenza. This strain is covered by the flu vaccine.

“Pregnant women are more likely to be severely affected by influenza, because of changes to their bodies and immune systems during pregnancy.

“The vaccine also helps protect the unborn baby, so the newborn infant will also have some protection against influenza.

“Due to the late onset of the flu season this year the government extended the free flu immunisation programme until the end of August. With flu still circulating around our communities, it is a very last chance for those still eligible to get in.”

More than 1.2 million flu vaccines have been distributed across the country.

“Over a quarter of our total population is protected against influenza. Last year around half of all health professionals had the shot and we’re hoping for more this year.

“Together, we’re reducing our own chances of catching influenza or passing it on to our families and friends, and we’re reducing the impact of the disease on our health system,” says Mrs Goodhew.


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