This year’s flu vaccine programme has seen record numbers of New Zealanders vaccinated with 587,000 vaccines already administered compared to 290,000 at the same time last year, Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter said.
Monday marks the end of vaccines being restricted to priority groups only.
“This year we started the flu jab season early, distributed hundreds of thousands more vaccines and doubled the number of people vaccinated this year compared to this time last year,” Julie Anne Genter said.
“Despite the COVID-19 lockdown, the vaccination programme roll out has been a success in terms of the number of at-risk people already vaccinated.
“We know doctors, nurses and pharmacies have been busy at a very stressful time, so I want to thank them for their extraordinary work in administering so many vaccines so early this year.
“I want to acknowledge that while providers may have found it difficult given the high demand, they have done an excellent job. I ask that people are patient with their doctor, nurse or pharmacist as we deal with this unprecedented demand.
“Last year only one in four New Zealanders got their flu vaccine, while this year we are on track for more than one in three New Zealanders to get vaccinated. We have done all we can in this unprecedented situation of high demand to ensure it is going to those who need it most.
“This government started early to make flu vaccines available to priority groups – such as healthcare workers and the elderly – to help maintain the capacity of the healthcare system if COVID-19 cases were higher.
“FluTracker has recorded lower levels of flu-like illness this year compared to normal, which indicates both the success of the Alert Level 4 lockdown and the vaccine roll out.
“We know there is high demand for the vaccine this year. In addition to stock already in the community, we are releasing further stocks of vaccine this week. According to our records, there are nearly 700,000 vaccine doses across the country that have not yet been recorded as administered.
“We are working to get flu vaccines to those who need them the most as fast as possible. That’s why we are asking for those essential workers who are still at work to be next in line for getting immunised – like supermarket workers.
“Pharmac is seeking additional stock and we have more doses in the country this year than ever before, however there is not infinite supply, so let’s continue to look after each other by making sure we get flu vaccines to those who need them most.
“Young and healthy people are at low risk because of the precautions we are taking already against Covid-19, such as working from home and practicing social distancing. Please leave the remaining stock to those who need it most, the vulnerable and those essential workers and others back at the job under level 3.
“Working together, we can ensure that our flu vaccine campaign reaches the most vulnerable and protects our whole health system this winter.
“I encourage people to get in contact over the coming weeks with their GP or pharmacist and make a plan to get vaccinated. Ring ahead to make an appointment.
“I want to be clear that the flu vaccine does not protect against Covid-19. We have moved quickly to get more people vaccinated, earlier, to limit the spread of the flu – so that fewer people end up in hospital and put more pressure on our hospitals during a busy time with COVID-19,” Julie Anne Genter said.
· As at 17 April 2020, 587,000 people have been vaccinated, compared with 290,000 on the same date in 2019.
· Two thirds of vaccines are to people aged over 65, and 5712 to pregnant women.
· 700,000 vaccines are available in New Zealand to be administered.
Free flu vaccines continue to be available for:
-People aged 65 and over
-People who are pregnant
-People with certain chronic conditions
-Young children with a history of severe respiratory illness.
Contact: Tara Forde 021 1459412