Influenza

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Influenza in New Zealand

Influenza (flu) can be a serious illness and poses a significant public health issue in New Zealand. Immunisation provides the best protection against flu, and demand for the vaccine in New Zealand is increasing.

Some people are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill if they catch flu, including Māori and Pacific people aged 55 and over, other people aged 65 and over, those with chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and serious asthma; pregnant women, and young children with a history of serious respiratory illnesses. For these groups of people, the vaccination is free of charge through primary care providers and community pharmacy.

For further information on this disease’s symptoms and treatments go to Influenza.

2022 Influenza Immunisation Programme

Every year the Ministry of Health supports the running of an Influenza Immunisation Programme.

The Programme is designed to protect those at greatest risk of serious illness from influenza, who are eligible for a funded vaccination. Detailed information who is eligible for free vaccination can be found on the Ministry’s flu vaccination webpage

The goals of the 2022 Influenza Immunisation programme are:

  • Vaccinate 75% of the population aged 65 and over
  • Improve influenza immunisation coverage for people aged under 65s with certain medical conditions, and for pregnant people
  • Improve influenza immunisation uptake for health care workers: vaccinate at least 80% of DHB health care workers.

Information for providers

Start date

The 2022 Influenza Immunisation Programme starts on 1 April for the whole population, with a focus on immunising people eligible for funded vaccines, particularly those in more vulnerable populations such as Māori and Pacific peoples.

Expanded eligibility for Māori and Pacific peoples

Access to the funded influenza vaccine has been broadened this year to include Māori and Pacific peoples aged between 55 and 64 years of age.

Vaccination rates are much lower for Māori and Pacific peoples compared to the wider non-Māori, non-Pacific population. Māori and Pacific peoples also have a high incidence of pre-existing health conditions that place them at heightened risk of hospitalisation and death from influenza.

The change will mean that 100,000 Māori and Pacific people aged over 55 will be offered the free vaccine. Pregnant people, people aged 65 and over, and people with certain health conditions, such as chronic asthma or diabetes can also get a free vaccine.

In total, more than 1.5 million people will be eligible for a free flu vaccine this year.

Influenza immunisation and COVID-19 immunisation

The influenza and the Pfizer and Astra Zeneca COVID-19 immunisations can be given at the same time, before or after each other. There is no need to leave a gap between these vaccinations.

However, a 3-day interval is needed between the COVID-19 Novavax vaccine and the  FLUAD QUAD vaccine.

Vaccine supply

There are two million doses of influenza vaccines available in New Zealand this year and there are  four types of quadrivalent influenza vaccines:

  • AFLURIA® QUAD for children and adults aged from 3 years.
  • AFLURIA® QUAD JUNIOR for children aged under 3 years, i.e., 6–35 months.
  • FLUAD® QUAD is unfunded only, approved for use in adults aged 65 years or older.
  • FLUQUADRI™ is unfunded only, approved for use in children and adults 6 months of age and older.

A reminder that Fluad Quad MUST NOT be given to a person under 65. It is only approved by Medsafe for people aged 65 and over. Please refer to the Medsafe website alert for more information.

Healthcare Logistics (HCL) is distributing influenza vaccine doses to immunisation providers for the 2022 programme.

Please visit HCL’s website for more information about ordering or contact HCL at [email protected]

This year the needles will be attached with the funded AFLURIA® QUAD vaccine and AFLURIA® QUAD Junior vaccine.

The 2022 FLUAD QUAD vaccines are supplied without needles. Needles need to be purchased separately; they are available from EBOS Healthcare or pharmacy wholesalers.

Immunising health and disability care workers

As in previous years it is important health care and other frontline workers get immunised against influenza. The Ministry’s target is that 80 percent of New Zealand’s health care workers are immunised against influenza each year.

The Ministry of Health is ensuring that all health and disability workers have access to a free vaccine, and will reimburse all non-DHB health and disability employers for the cost of vaccinating their patient-facing staff against influenza.

Reimbursement for employee influenza vaccinations

We encourage health and disability sector employers to ensure their patient- and client-facing staff are vaccinated against influenza. 

The Ministry of Health will reimburse eligible employers of non-DHB health and disability workers for the costs of immunising their staff against influenza. The reimbursement scheme will be available from 1 May 2022 to 16 October 2022 (extended timeframe from 30 September 2022). 

Claims can be submitted by an employer through the below online portal. If your provider does not have an account already, please follow the sign-up steps in the user guide below to create one.

Employers should submit one request for all of their eligible employees, or for themselves if they are a self-employed contactor and attach an invoice made out to the Ministry of Health. An appropriate template invoice is available below.

Employers can claim costs incurred for influenza vaccination, as supported by appropriate documentation, to a maximum of $35+GST per person. 

We aim to process reimbursements within two months from receipt of a valid claim.

Eligibility for reimbursement 

Reimbursement is available for health and disability sector employees, self-employed lead maternity carers, and carers employed under individualised funding arrangements who: 

  • have patient/client contact 
  • are not eligible for a publicly-funded influenza immunisation (criteria available on the Pharmac website) or, are vaccinated by a provider who cannot claim for a publicly-funded influenza immunisation (eg, an occupational health provider).

The eligibility criteria have been updated from those previously used. We encourage all health and disability care employers who meet the criteria to apply for reimbursement.

Types of employers qualifying for influenza vaccination reimbursement

Reimbursement is available to all non-DHB health and disability service providers. This includes general practices, private hospitals, disability service providers, pharmacies, aged residential care facilities, hauora Māori and Pacific health practices. Self-employed lead maternity carers and carers employed under individual funding arrangements also qualify. 

If you are unsure if your organisation qualifies for reimbursement, please contact us via [email protected].  

Types of employees eligible for reimbursement

Providers may apply for a reimbursement for any employee they have vaccinated against influenza who: 

  1. is not eligible for a funded vaccination under the eligibility criteria stated in the Pharmaceutical Schedule, and  
  2. has patient/client contact.  
Reimbursement for employers who usually pay for their employees’ flu vaccines

Our eligibility criteria has changed. In 2022 health and disability service employers can request a reimbursement for any employee who has patient/client contact, irrespective of whether the employee previously received an employer-funded flu vaccine.  

This is a change from 2021 when employees who had previously received employer-funded vaccinations were not eligible for a Ministry reimbursement. 

Maximum available reimbursement

Employers can claim costs incurred for influenza vaccination to a maximum of $35+GST per person. 

Availability period for the reimbursement scheme

Applications are currently open. Reimbursements will begin being processed on the 1 May 2022. Applications will close on the 30 September 2022. 

Eligibility for reimbursement for vaccinations given prior to 1 May 2022

Employers can claim retrospectively for flu vaccinations given to staff before 1 May 2022.

Recording the flu immunisation

The Ministry of Health is beginning to introduce a new way to record influenza immunisations – in the National Immunisation Solution (NIS). The first phase of the NIS will be released to support the start of influenza (flu) vaccinations on 01 April 2022. The NIS will be available for all providers that would like to onboard and will be developed and enhanced throughout the year. Initially the NIS will operate alongside the current National Immunisation Register (NIR) to support the transition.

All flu vaccinations will be collected in the NIS and this will be achieved through

  • Providers that have an electronic Patient Management System (PMS) that already integrates into the National Immunisation Register (NIR) will continue to record flu vaccinations into their electronic PMS if it already links to the NIR. Nothing needs to be done differently. The NIS will capture these records direct from the NIR.
  • All other providers can start using direct entry into the NIS via the ‘Flu form’ which will be hosted in the COVID-19 Immunisation Register (CIR). The NIS will capture these records from the CIR.

*Commencing on Wed 30th March. If you think this first phase of the NIS will affect the way that you record flu, please get in touch with the NIS Team via [email protected]. There are resources and elearning to support those that want to get involved in using the NIS. Please email the help desk to request access: [email protected]

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