April 2021 NZ Influenza Vaccine Update

From April 14, 2021, the national Influenza Immunisation Programme kicks off for the 2021 influenza season. All those aged 65+ will be eligible for a funded vaccine.  

From early May 2021 immunisation opens to those under 65 and runs through to December 31.

The vaccine is funded for:

·       Pregnant women (any trimester)

·       People aged 65 years and older

·       People aged under 65 years with any of the medical conditions listed by PHARMAC

·       Children aged 4 years or under who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or who have a history of significant respiratory illness.

Those working in the health and disability workforce with patient/client contact are also likely funded, please see the Ministry of Health website.

The Ministry’s target is that 80 per cent of New Zealand’s healthcare workers are immunised against influenza each year.

Co-ordination of Influenza and COVID-19 Immunisation Programmes

Influenza remains a priority immunisation programme in New Zealand as influenza continues to be a public health risk even with the current border control settings for COVID-19. The national COVID-19 vaccine programme has commenced and will run throughout the year in stages.

The Ministry of Health and the Immunisation Advisory Centre recommend a gap of at least two weeks between influenza and COVID-19 vaccination. In some clinical cases, vaccines can be provided with a shorter gap. For the full position statement and direction, refer to the Immunisation Handbook 2020, where a new chapter on COVID-19 has been added as of February 2021.

The Immunisation Handbook 2020 can be found at https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/immunisation-handbook-2020

For information on when influenza vaccination may be contraindicated, visit https://www.influenza.org.nz/contraindications-and-precautions-receiving-influenza-vaccine

For information on COVID-19 vaccine rollout in NZ, visit https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-vaccines/covid-19-getting-vaccine/covid-19-when-you-can-get-vaccine

Vaccine Information

There are three influenza vaccines available this year in New Zealand that are recommended by the Ministry of Health, The Immunisation Advisory Centre and guided by the World Health Organisation. The vaccines available in New Zealand are manufactured in Australia, UK or the USA.

Influenza vaccines do not contain live virus and cannot cause influenza.

The four inactive strains covered within each of the 2021 influenza vaccines are:

  • A/Victoria/2570/2019 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
  • A/Hong Kong/2671/2019 (H3N2)-like virus
  • B/Washington/02/2019-like virus
  • B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus.

The standard 20-minute wait time post–influenza vaccine has been revised by the Ministry of Health under certain circumstances.Refer to your immuniser for details. For more information, visit https://www.immune.org.nz/vaccines/available-vaccines/influenza-vaccine.

Vaccinations are only one part of IPC in aged care. To find out more about how Bug Control can help you improve infection control in your residential aged care facility, visit us at https://www.infectionprevention.co.nz/ and book a free consultation today.