The Ministry is working with the health and disability sector to ensure influenza vaccines are distributed equitably across New Zealand, to enable those at greatest risk to get vaccinated as soon as possible – 800,000 influenza vaccines have already been distributed. As the next shipments of vaccines arrive in New Zealand, we will be making sure that deliveries to communities at greatest risk are prioritised.
Free vaccinations are now available for kaumātua aged 65 and older, pregnant women, and other people with serious health conditions like severe asthma, diabetes, heart, lung and kidney problems or cancer. Young children with a history of severe respiratory illness are also eligible for free vaccination.
Out of the at-risk groups, Māori and Pacific immunisation rates have historically been significantly lower than those of the wider population. Additionally, the impact of previous pandemics has fallen disproportionately on Māori and Pacific people – for these reasons we urge providers more than ever to make sure the influenza vaccination is made available to the greatest extent to these communities, particularly kaumātua and māmā who are hapū. Healthcare and other frontline workers are also able to be vaccinated early.
Please encourage your at-risk whānau, especially your kaumātua, to get their free influenza vaccinations as soon as possible. GPs and other providers are using different ways to make sure they can keep their patients healthy as they vaccinate them, that suit them and their practice. Encourage whānau to ring ahead to check when and where their GP/pharmacy/Māori Health Provider are giving vaccines.
Although the influenza vaccination won’t protect whānau from COVID-19, it will help protect against a serious disease that kills hundreds of New Zealanders every winter.
Deputy Director-General | Māori Health Directorate