Early flu vaccination programme launched today

by Peter Newport - Mar 18, 2020

The Ministry of Health has made this announcement. The Government has asked all non-critical sections of the community to wait until April 13th to get vaccinated.

This year’s flu vaccine campaign will be the biggest ever with 400,000 more vaccines available in 2020, compared with last year. The announcement was made this morning as Health Ministers David Clark and Julie Anne Genter launched a new COVID-19 public health campaign.

Free flu vaccines will be available from GP clinics and selected pharmacies for certain people including:

  • People aged 65 and over
  • People who are pregnant
  • People with certain chronic conditions, and
  • Young children with a history of severe respiratory illness.

Healthcare workers will receive a free vaccine from their employer.

“New Zealanders health is our top priority. Our strong advice is to get your flu vaccine early this year to protect yourself, your family and your colleagues against the spread of the flu,” said Health Minister David Clark.

“The Government is starting this year’s flu vaccination programme early, and is prioritising jabs for the New Zealanders who are most at risk.

“Getting your vaccine will reduce your chances of catching the flu, and improve our ability to manage higher demand at hospitals from COVID-19.

“It’s critical that we do all we can to prevent a bad flu season this year. The flu causes significant strain on our health system and more people vaccinating against flu will ensure health services are there for those who need them most.

“While the flu vaccine will not protect you against COVID-19 it will help to ‘flatten the curve’ of demand on our hospitals this winter,” David Clark said.

“Making more vaccines than ever available earlier than usual is another step that the Government is taking to get ahead of this global pandemic,” Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter said. 

“As can be expected, there is a huge global demand for the flu vaccine this year. We have done well to secure more doses than ever but we still need to ensure who are most at risk are at the front of the line. I’m sure most New Zealanders will agree this is the right thing to do.

“We can all agree that we need to protect our health workers. They are interacting with sick people every day, and more than ever we need them to be well to ensure our health system is prepared to fight COVID-19. 

“Our healthcare workers are the heart of our health system and it is right we ensure they are able to continue working throughout the winter. 

“To make sure this happens I have asked DHBs to actively target people who qualify, including healthcare workers. This will include aged care workers, as well as doctors, nurses, and hospital staff,” Julie Anne Genter said.

The Government also launched a major public health campaign to educate New Zealanders about simple steps everyone can take to help prevent the spread of the virus.

“Unite Against Covid-19 is a simple call to action. Now is the time for New Zealanders to come together, support each other and do the things that can help slow the spread of the virus,” David Clark said.  

“We are reminding people of the simple actions they can take to fight COVID-19 – washing and drying hands frequently, coughing and sneezing into your elbow, staying at home if you are sick and looking after each other especially the elderly and vulnerable.

“We know these actions will help slow the spread of COVID-19 and we know this campaign will remind people to do the right thing.

“We are in this for the long-haul and yesterday’s major health investment allocated $10 million to the campaign,” David Clark said.


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