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Cantabrians Asked To Be Patient While Flu Vaccine Is Distributed

Canterbury District Health Board is asking Cantabrians to be patient while the health system works to resolve delays with the distribution of the flu vaccine across the region.

Stock has been held up in the supply chain, affecting DHBs around the country. This means a significant number of General Practice teams and pharmacies do not have vaccine available at the moment to fulfil the demand from the community.

“It’s great that Cantabrians are keen to do the right thing and get their flu vaccine early this year. It is, however, unfortunate that we are unable to meet the demand at this time,” says Medical Officer of Health Dr Ramon Pink.

According to the Ministry of Health, more than 800,000 influenza vaccines have been distributed to vaccination providers across the country. Around 30,000 Cantabrians have received their flu shot since it was released in mid-March.

“General Practice teams, pharmacies and workplace vaccinators are all adapting the way they work under the current national alert level 4 for COVID-19. As vaccine supplies are replenished, they will continue to prioritise those who are most at-risk of developing a serious illness from influenza and COVID-19, before the vaccine is made available to the wider community,” says Dr Pink.

The following groups are eligible for a free flu vaccination:

  • people aged 65 years and over
  • pregnant women
  • anyone with certain chronic health conditions
  • children under four with a history of severe respiratory illness.

Frontline health workers are also encouraged to get their flu vaccine as soon as possible. The flu vaccine should be available for the wider public from Monday 13 April.

“We recommend Cantabrians wait until their General Practice team or pharmacist contacts them about their flu vaccination. For those planning to drop in to their local pharmacy, please call ahead before visiting in person,” says Dr Pink.

The national influenza immunisation programme normally starts in April, and the flu season normally starts in late May.

More stock of the flu vaccine is expected to be available over the next couple of weeks.

The flu vaccine does not protect against COVID-19, however, it can help prevent a serious illness from flu and help reduce demand on the health system.

General advice for staying well

Help keep yourself, your whānau and your community healthy by:

  • regularly washing your hands with soap and water
  • thoroughly drying your hands after washing them
  • sneezing and coughing into a tissue, clothing or your elbow
  • staying home if you feel unwell.

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