​Pharmacists to provide influenza vaccinations early due to COVID-19

Media release: Wednesday 18 March 2020

Influenza vaccinations will be available from pharmacies early this year, as part of the Ministry of Health’s preparations for the potential impact of COVID-19 on the health sector.

This year influenza vaccinations will be starting early for eligible patients (as they are at greatest risk of serious illness from influenza) and healthcare workers.

Pharmacies will be able to provide free influenza vaccinations for eligible patients aged 13 and over from Wednesday 18 March.

Eligible patients include people aged 65 and over, pregnant women and people with certain chronic conditions (such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, etc). For full details of eligibility criteria talk to your pharmacist.

Pharmacies will be able to provide privately funded influenza vaccinations to all adults over 13 years of age from Monday 13 April, to allow eligible patients and healthcare workers to have priority access.

“There are over 1000 pharmacists who are trained and ready to start delivering influenza vaccines in the community. Being able to go to their pharmacy for the flu vaccine just makes it easier for people,” says Ian McMichael, President of the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand.

Influenza vaccine does not protect against COVID-19. However, it will help prevent a serious illness that causes hundreds of deaths and places significant pressure on healthcare services each winter in New Zealand.

Improving protection against influenza for our healthcare workforce and for our most vulnerable populations will improve our ability to manage increased demand as a result of COVID-19.

The Ministry of Health is anticipating an increase in demand for influenza vaccination because of COVID-19, and as a result more than 400,000 extra influenza vaccines will be supplied to New Zealand over the amount that was used in 2019.