Health Minister Jonathan Coleman today launched the annual influenza immunisation campaign at Victoria University of Wellington’s Student Hub.
“The Government is committed to increasing influenza protection in New Zealand, especially among high risk groups,” says Dr Coleman.
“This year there is a particular focus on ensuring younger people with long term health conditions such as severe asthma or diabetes are protected.”
High risk groups include those with long-term health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease, kidney disease, cancer, as well as pregnant women and people aged 65 and over.
Influenza immunisation is free for New Zealanders at high risk of complications and is accessible through their local general practice and some pharmacies. Many employers also provide free vaccination.
“This year, the influenza immunisation was delayed globally a few weeks so that two new vaccine strains could be incorporated,” says Dr Coleman.
“This will ensure New Zealanders are better protected this winter from the strains of influenza circulating around the world. The vaccines are expected to be administered well before peak influenza season in winter, and similar to last year, a total of 1.2 million doses are expected to be distributed.”
This week is also Immunisation Week which is an opportunity to talk about immunisation for babies and young children, as well as protecting Kiwis throughout their life.
“Adults can protect themselves, their families and their communities by immunising against serious diseases, including influenza, whooping cough and measles. People should talk to their GP to find out if they need to catch up,” says Dr Coleman.
Media contact: Kirsty Taylor-Doig 021 838 372