More kaumātua have been vaccinated this year than ever before as the result of a push to get more Māori immunised against influenza, Associate Ministers of Health, Julie Anne Genter and Peeni Henare announced today.
“Māori have historically had lower rates of immunisation than tauiwi – that’s why we focussed on protecting our kaumātua with free influenza vaccinations as part of our $9.5 million to our Māori-specific influenza vaccination campaign,” Julie Anne Genter said.
“We’ve seen ‘pop-up clinics’ at local venues such as marae, mobile clinics, and ‘drive-through’ vaccine stations. These innovative approaches have meant that well over half of our kaumātua are vaccinated against influenza.
“Latest figures show that 58 per cent of Māori aged 65 and over are fully vaccinated against influenza – it was 45 per cent this time last year, and 43 per cent the year before that,” Julie Anne Genter said.
“This year has seen incredibly high demand for the flu vaccine as New Zealand prepared to tackle COVID-19,” Peeni Henare said.
“I’m stoked that for the first time in history over 50% of our Koro and Kuia are protected against this virus.
“Kiwis have really stepped up. They protected themselves against the flu, which meant that hospitals could focus on preparing for COVID-19,” Peeni Henare said.
This year has seen the highest levels of funding for the flu vaccine with 1.76 million vaccines already distributed to general practices, pharmacists and other providers.
To put that in context, we have 800,000 more vaccines imported into the country than in our previous record years – 400,000 that have been distributed, and around 400,000 doses still in stock- which is a 60 per cent increase on previous years.
More than a third of New Zealanders have been vaccinated this year – this time last year only one in four New Zealanders got their influenza vaccine.
“Going hard and early by closing the borders has also meant that New Zealand hasn’t seen travellers sick with the influenza coming in from overseas,” said Julie Anne Genter.
“The Māori specific influenza programme underscores one of this Government’s priorities in health – to make healthcare more equitable and easier to access for all New Zealanders.
“It’s not too late for people who haven’t yet been vaccinated to protect themselves and their kaumātua – there is still plenty of influenza vaccine available.”