Can I Get a Free Vaccine

You could come in contact with influenza at anytime

Around one in four New Zealanders are infected with influenza each year. Many people won’t feel sick at all, but can still pass it on to others. Influenza can be anywhere. Contact with the influenza virus is almost unavoidable, and while contact does not necessarily mean infection, it does mean that you are  never far from the possibility of catching influenza. 

Influenza vaccine supply issue

Influenza vaccine stock update 6 July 2019

The Ministry of Health and PHARMAC have advised that an additional 55,000 doses of the influenza vaccine brand FluQuadri™ have been sourced for delivery to New Zealand from Monday 8 July. FluQuadri has previously been used in New Zealand for adults and children aged 3 years or older.

While people at greatest risk from influenza continue to be the priority for influenza vaccination, the additional vaccines mean that other New Zealanders will be able to purchase the vaccine once the FluQuadri stock is available in general practices and community pharmacies. This could be as early as the end of the week, around 11–12 July, for some providers.

Background

The number of influenza vaccines that have been distributed in 2019 so far has eceeded the total for all of last winter when 1.3 million doses were distributed. 

High uptake of influenza immunisation means most people will have already been immunised this year. If you or your family are eligible for the funded influenza vaccine, contact your family doctor. Eligible groups include:

  • Pregnant women.
  • Children aged 4 and under with serious respiratory illnesses.
  • People with severe asthma, heart disease, diabetes and other serious health conditions that make them more susceptible to influenza.
  • Those aged 65 and over.

It is still important for those who have been immunised as well as those who have not to reduce the risk of spreading influenza:

  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.
  • Wash and dry your hands often.
  • Stay away from others if you are sick.

Click on the link to open the  Flu can be anywhere brochure.

A  general flu inflormation leaflet is available in the languages below:

Influenza immunisation is FREE for people who are most at risk

Almost everyone can benefit from the protection of annual influenza immunisation.

The vaccine is especially important for people at risk of serious complications from influenza including people with any of the conditions listed in the table below:

Funded influenza vaccine criteria as set by PHARMAC:

1. People 65 years of age and over; or
2. People under 65 years of age who
  • have any of the following cardiovascular diseases:
    • ischaemic heart disease, or
    • congestive heart failure, or
    • rheumatic heart disease, or
    • congenital heart disease, or
    • cerebrovascular disease; or
  • have either of the following chronic respiratory diseases:
    • asthma, if on a regular preventative therapy, or
    • other chronic respiratory disease with impaired lung function;(a) or
  • have diabetes; or
  • have chronic renal disease; or
  • have any cancer, please refer to the vaccine precaution below#, excluding basal and squamous skin cancers if not invasive; or
  • have any of the following other conditions:
    • autoimmune disease(b), or
    • immune suppression or immune deficiency, or
    • HIV, or

 

    • transplant recipients, or
    • neuromuscular and CNS diseases/disorders(c), or
    • haemoglobinopathies(d), or
    • children on long-term aspirin, or
    • a cochlear implant, or
    • error of metabolism at risk of major metabolic decompensation, or
    • pre and post splenectomy, or
    • Down syndrome, or
  • pregnant women (any trimester); or
3. Children aged 4 years or under who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness;

4. Please note: From 1 April 2019, PHARMAC removed the influenza vaccine eligibility criteria for people under 18 years of age living in Seddon, Kaikoura and Hurunui areas. 
The standard eligibility criteria for people aged 6 months to under 18 years continues to apply in these regions.

 

Unless meeting the criteria set out above, the following conditions are excluded from funding:

  • asthma not requiring regular preventative therapy
  • hypertension and/or dyslipidaemia without evidence of end-organ disease
Also refer to the New Zealand Pharmaceutical Schedule on the PHARMAC website.
a. Chronic respiratory diseases may include: chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, emphysema.
b. Autoimmune diseases may include: coeliac disease, Crohns disease, Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis: Immune suppression or immune deficiency includes diseases modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDS) or targeted biologic therapies.
c. Neuromuscular and CNS diseases/disorders include: celebral palsy, congenital myopathy, epilepsy, hydrocephaly, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, myasthenia gravis, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury.
d. Haemoglobinopathies including: sickle cell anaemia, thalassemia.

If you do not have one of these eligible conditions, you still benefit from an influenza immunisation.

Ready to get immunised? Find a healthcare professional near you.