Pandemic influenza H1N1 2009 (swine flu) - update 170
Pandemic media release
The overall situation in New Zealand is largely unchanged since last week. Sentinel surveillance data from the Institute of Environmental Science and Research show that visits to doctors for influenza-like illness (ILI) remained at very low levels during the week of 25-31 January 2010.
Whilst the continued low influenza activity is good news, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the pandemic is not over. A possible second wave of pandemic influenza, for which we have been preparing, could occur anytime.
To help protect New Zealanders against the flu, the Ministry is currently making a monovalent (single viral strain) pandemic vaccine available through an early targeted immunisation programme. The Ministry recommends that those at highest risk of complications have this monovalent vaccine (followed by the seasonal influenza immunisation when it becomes available from early March). Those eligible to receive this monovalent pandemic vaccine are pregnant women, people under 65 years of age (including children) with certain conditions (as for seasonal influenza) or are morbidly obese, and all children aged from 6 months to their fifth birthday enrolled in designated practices that have high proportions of people who are Maori, Pacific and/or from high deprivation areas. It is being made available through clinics, and eligible people who are interested in receiving the early vaccine can get information about these clinics from their DHB.
The early immunisation will also be available to frontline healthcare workers, including staff in general practices, emergency departments, intensive care units and those who may have direct contact with at-risk patients.
Pandemic influenza has been reported from virtually all countries and nearly 15,000 laboratory-confirmed deaths have been reported worldwide as of 29 January 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest update.
Pandemic influenza activity in the northern hemisphere peaked between late October and late November 2009 and has continued to decline since except in some areas. Transmission of the pandemic virus continues in North Africa, some parts of eastern and southeastern Europe, and in parts of South and East Asia. Sporadic cases of pandemic influenza continue to be reported in the southern hemisphere, though there is no evidence yet of sustained community transmission. More information on the global progress of the pandemic is available on the WHO website: http://www.who.int/csr/don/2010_01_29/en/index.html.
Over the past week, WHO also addressed allegations that it had been influenced by the pharmaceutical industry to create a “fake” pandemic (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2010/h1n1_pandemic_20100122/en/index.html).
Please attribute this statement to Dr Mark Jacobs, Director of Public Health
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