Influenza

Influenza is a significant public health issue in New Zealand. Each year it has a large impact on our community, with 10-20% of New Zealanders infected.

Some of these people become so ill they need hospital care, and a small number die.

Influenza also has a financial impact, particularly in workplaces, and can potentially overwhelm both primary care and hospital services during winter epidemics.

For consumer information relating to influenza, see the Influenza page in the Your Health section.

Annual Influenza Immunisation Programme

Detailed information on the annual influenza immunisation programme, including who is eligible for free immunisation, is available through the National Influenza Specialist Group. For information for health professionals, see www.influenza.org.nz. Information for patients is available at www.fightflu.co.nz.

Start date for eligible patients and health care workers 18 March 2020

As part of the Ministry of Health's preparation for the potential impact of COVID-19 on the health sector, the 2020 influenza immunisation programme began early, from 18 March, for eligible patients only, as they are at greatest risk of serious illness from influenza.  Influenza vaccines for eligible children aged 6 months to 35 months was available from 1 April 2020.

Health care and emergency response workers were also able to be vaccinated from 18 March, as are other essential workers from 22 April. This is not funded, but is often paid for by employers either through a workplace vaccination programme or vouchers. 

Pharmacist vaccinators are now able to administer and claim for funded vaccination for eligible people aged 13 and over.

From 27 April 2020, privately funded vaccination became available.

Northern hemisphere vaccine available to order from 22 May 2020

In addition to the 1.768 million doses of Southern Hemisphere vaccines, the Ministry of Health and Pharmac have successfully secured a further 360,000 doses of influenza vaccine from the Northern Hemisphere.

These have arrived in New Zealand and will be ready for providers to order from 22 May.

The vaccine is approved for use among healthy people aged 3 to 64 and will be available to purchase through general practices, pharmacies and occupational health services.

The Influvac Tetra (Saison 19/20) Northern Hemisphere vaccine contains two of the same strains of influenza vaccine as the usual vaccines used in New Zealand this year, and one that is closely related.

Because of the way influenza changes as it circulates around the world, the fourth strain in the Northern Hemisphere is not a close match for the equivalent strain in the Southern Hemisphere.  For more information see: Influvac Tetra (Saison 2019/2020) influenza vaccine approved for limited use in New Zealand.  

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The Annual Influenza Immunisation Programme usually begins on 1 April, to ensure that the vaccine remained as effective as possible during the peak incidence of influenza, which in recent years has occurred in late winter. For further information, see the Ministry's policy statement on the Annual Influenza Immunisation Programme Start Date.

Influenza vaccine stock and coverage as at 22 May 2020

DHB Balance (total distribution minus NIR) Vaccines administered (NIR data) to 8 May 2020 Coverage 65+% (NIR data, target 75%)
Auckland  144,351 83,135 57%
Bay of Plenty  26,679 55,518 71%
Canterbury  95,801 133,968 71%
Capital and Coast  60,243 62,481 64%
Counties Manukau  46,762 87,600 58%
Hawkes Bay  44,051 37,783 69%
Hutt Valley  16,968 30,352 64%
Lakes  11,081 20,251 63%
MidCentral  22,621 37,721 66%
Nelson Marlborough  19,495 39,494 67%
Northland  20,841 35,944 57%
South Canterbury  9,161 13,544 56%
Southern  48,002 64,640 57%
Tairawhiti  3,644 10,222 63%
Taranaki  12,656 23,078 66%
Waikato  50,368 84,658 66%
Wairarapa  3,913 12,258 74%
Waitemata  86,497 105,972 57%
West Coast  3,196 8,495 73%
Whanganui  5,167 17,633 77%
Total 731,497 964,747 63%

Note: Balance may include some vaccines already administered but not recorded on the National Immunisation Register. It also includes stock held in local warehouses, pharmacies, general practices as well as at the individual DHB.

Pandemic planning and response

Ministry of Health pandemic planning and response.

Consumer information

Influenza information and advice from the Ministry is provided in the YourHealth consumer section.

Workforce Influenza Immunisation Coverage Rates by District Health Boards

Antiviral treatment

Information on antiviral treatment including tamiflu is available from the NISG website. Datasheets are provided on the Medsafe website.

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