From 2019 the annual Influenza Immunisation Programme will start on 1 April each year, subject to the vaccine being available for distribution from then.
You are eligible for a free vaccine if you are over 65 years of age or if you have a chronic health condition such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, COPD, pregnancy and some other conditions. If you are unsure as to your eligibility, please contact our nursing staff for advice. Anyone can have a vaccine outside of the above groups, but this will incur a cost.
The start date differs from previous years when the programme was started as soon as the flu vaccine became available (usually early March). Evidence on the duration of effectiveness of the flu vaccination and influenza surveillance data helped the Ministry of Health make this decision.
Following flu vaccination, protection against the disease is highest during the first month and then declines by about 7% per month. In those aged 65+ and the very young, the decline in protection is quicker and more noticeable. Although flu activity can occur throughout the year, the peak incidence is typically during the winter months. In recent years the peak incidence of flu in New Zealand has been in August.
Therefore, a later start date for the influenza immunisation programme may provide better protection for our vulnerable population during the expected peak flu activity period. We plan to start flu vaccinations from 1 April, and many patients will be able to have their vaccination at the time of their routine appointment in April. There will also be a number of flu vaccination clinics held, and we are planning some Saturday morning clinics again as these were successful last year. It is important to get your vaccination as soon as you can after 1 April.
Please note that we ask that you book a separate appointment if you are eligible for the shingles vaccine (65 years). This allows us to assess whether or not the vaccine is appropriate for your individual medical problems, and for us to complete the required consent form process which is a little more involved for this vaccine.