Sunday, April 21, 2024

Boost to flu vaccine supplies

The Government will fund a quarter of a million more free flu vaccines for this year’s winter campaign, Health Minister, Andrew Little has announced.

“Up to two million New Zealanders will be eligible for a free flu vaccination in 2022,” Minister Little said.

“The efforts of the team of 5 million have helped prevent our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with COVID-19.

“Now, as we prepare to reconnect to the world, we can expect to see more seasonal flu in New Zealand. Vaccinating more people from the flu will save lives, preserve capacity in our hospitals, and is a part of our plan to get through the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The flu vaccine can be safely administered at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine – whether that be a booster shot or paediatric vaccine.

There is no requirement to have a gap between the COVID-19 vaccine and any other vaccine except for the Zostavax shingles vaccine, the Minister said.

“It’s so important we continue to do what we can to protect our most vulnerable and this is another way that we can keep New Zealanders safe.”

Clinical experts at the Ministry of Health and PHARMAC are currently updating the eligibility criteria for a free flu vaccination with a focus on reducing the age of eligibility for at-risk populations, and potentially including a wider range of young people.

Currently flu vaccinations are free for pregnant women, over 65s, and people who have certain medical conditions including those with cancer and diabetes.

This campaign will run alongside wider paediatric vaccination campaigns to better protect our vulnerable communities from preventable disease.

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