The Ministry of Health and PHARMAC are continuing to work together to manage existing stocks of influenza vaccine this winter.
Already this season, distribution of influenza vaccine in New Zealand has reached near record levels, with around 1.3 million doses of influenza vaccine distributed so far this winter. This number is close to last year’s all-time record of 1.326 million doses for the entire season, and exceeds the number of doses distributed each year in 2016 and 2017.
The overwhelming majority of influenza vaccination that takes place each year is done during April and May. The Ministry has asked providers to prioritise the stock remaining in clinics, estimated at around 20,000 doses, to those most at risk from the harmful effects of influenza.
PHARMAC and Seqirus, the manufacturer of Afluria Quad influenza vaccine, have worked together to make 14,000 vaccines originally intended for the private market available to those who are eligible for publicly funded vaccines. The funding of Fluarix Tetra has also been extended from only children aged 6 to 35 months to include use in pregnancy. This means that at 11 June 2019, an additional 20,000 vaccines are available for higher risk patients.
The Ministry is continuing to ask general practices and pharmacists to ensure they closely manage their stock levels and prioritise the vaccination of those at greatest risk of influenza:
- pregnant women
- children aged 4 and under with serious respiratory illnesses
- people with severe asthma, heart disease, diabetes and other serious health conditions that make them more susceptible to influenza
- those aged 65 and over.
As well as vaccination, it's also important to remember the other ways to help keep healthy during flu season. Washing hands, safe sneezing, and staying home if you're unwell are other ways we can reduce the spread of winter illnesses including flu.
- Influenza – information on prevention, symptoms and treatment
- Influenza vaccination levels hit near record levels – PHARMAC
- Flu surveillance and research – Institute of Environmental Science and Research