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New influenza vaccine for 2015

Update,July 17, 2015

Influenza immunisation is free and is available now at Eastmed Doctors for New Zealanders at high risk of complications – pregnant women, people aged 65 and over, and anyone under 65 years of age with ongoing medical conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease (including asthma), kidney disease and most cancers, as well as children under five who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness.

The subsidised season will end on August 30, 2015.

Recent report of flu in NZ Herald

All patients can recieve the vaccine and if you are in the non susbsidised group, there is small fee for the vaccine at Eastmed Doctors.

Two new strains in the influenza vaccines for 2015 may offer better protection for New Zealanders this winter, advises the Immunisation Advisory Centre’s National Influenza Specialist Group (NISG)[1].

The influenza vaccine for 2015 Southern Hemisphere influenza season includes two new strains based upon recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) on the strains most likely to spread and cause illness in people this season.

    The strains for the 2015 Southern Hemisphere influenza vaccine are:
  • A/Californian/7/2009 (H1N1) – like virus
  • A/Switzerland/9715293/2013 (H3N2) – like virus
  • B/Phuket/3073/2013 – like virus.

The A/Switzerland and B/Phuket are new strains for 2015.

Protecting younger people, especially those with ongoing medical conditions, will be a special focus of this year’s seasonal influenza immunisation programme.

“We know that younger people who have an ongoing medical condition such as diabetes or asthma, are often unaware that they are at risk from influenza. They possibly believe they are fit and healthy and therefore, not in need of influenza vaccination. Unfortunately, this group is particularly vulnerable to the complications of influenza because of their underlying condition and are more likely to be admitted to hospital when suffering from influenza than the general population,” explains Dr Jennings.

“People 65 years and over are still a priority but we need to get higher uptake among those with ongoing medical conditions, pregnant women and eligible children.”

Around 1.2 million doses of influenza vaccine were used in NZ in the 2014 season. The highest uptake was among people 65 and over.

Research has shown that healthy, pregnant women are up to 18 times more likely to be admitted to hospital when suffering from influenza than non-pregnant women. [2] There are also a range of influenza-related complications that can affect the unborn infant, and can even cause premature birth or miscarriage. Immunisation in pregnancy also offers protection to the newborn infant during the first few months of life.

For further information go to www.influenza.org.nz or www.moh.govt.nz or call 0800 IMMUNE 0800 466 863.

[1] National Influenza Specialist Group (NISG). NISG was formed in 2000 by the Ministry of Health to increase public awareness of influenza, its seriousness and the importance of immunisation to prevent the disease. NISG is part of the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) and manages the National Annual Influenza Awareness Campaign. NISG is a not-for-profit group of expert Kiwi doctors and nurses, whose aim is to promote the benefits of immunisation for those most in need.

[2] Schanzer DL, Langley JM, Tam TWS. Influenza-attributed hospitalization rates among pregnant women in Canada 1994-2000. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 2007;29(8):622.