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Over a quarter of all Kiwis protected against flu

Immunisation is the best protection we have against influenza. Maintaining a high vaccination rate is an important way we can protect ourselves and our families from this common, but serious winter illness,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“When we protect ourselves, we also protect the people around us who may be too young or too unwell to be immunised themselves.”

This year’s total to-date almost reaches the record level set in 2013 of over 1.25 million doses.

With the peak of the flu season slightly slower to kick in compared to previous years, the Government has extended the free flu vaccine programme. It was due to wrap-up at the end of July, but is now running until the end of August.

“I encourage those who have not yet had the flu vaccine to make the most of this extra time. Immunisation is something simple we can all do,” Mrs Goodhew.

“This winter A-H1N1 appears to be the most common strain of influenza. It affects adults and young children more severely than other strains. The good news is that this strain is covered by the flu vaccine.”

The seasonal influenza immunisation programme 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, those under 18 are also eligible for free influenza vaccine. For everyone else aged 6 months or older, the vaccine is available for a small fee.

The flu vaccine is available from some pharmacies and all general practices.

For those who are already unwell, it is important to seek advice early from your doctor, nurse or Healthline (0800 611 116).

Media contact: Angela Kenealy 021 220 0129

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