Māori and Pasifika flu vaccine boost this winter

Wednesday 03 April 2024

WellSouth Primary Health Network is filling a gap for Māori and Pasifika aged 55-64 years old to get a free flu vaccine.


With the flu vaccine now available (April 1), there are many people in Otago and Southland who are eligible for a free influenza vaccine – this includes all people over 65, and all people who have long-term medical conditions like diabetes, asthma, or a heart condition and/or long-term mental health conditions.


Last winter, Māori and Pasifika aged 55-64 years old were also funded to receive a free vaccine by the Ministry of Health, using one-off Covid-19 funding stream. That funding has ended, and with this, many hundreds of 55-64 year old Māori and Pasifika were no longer covered.


Dr Carol Atmore, Clinical Director at WellSouth, the primary health organisation (PHO) for Southland and Otago, says WellSouth sees the value of providing flu vaccines for all Māori and Pacific people in our district, and has decided to fund this locally.


“Given Māori and Pacific people experience a greater illness burden at a younger age than NZ European people, and often live in multi-generational households, this was seen as a great targeted service to promote health in this population group,” she says.


“We looked at the percentages and funding available and have made the decision to fund the shortfall and ensure that high needs group is covered this year.”


“This supports approximately 1000 people and means that all 55–64 year old Māori and Pasifika in Otago and Southland are now able to get a fully funded flu vaccine,” says Dr Atmore.


You can get your vaccine at your general practice or local pharmacy.


If you are not eligible for a free flu vaccine, it can cost between $25 and $45.


Dr Atmore says, “whether you are eligible for a free vaccine or not, I strongly encourage everyone to get their flu vaccine – and their Covid booster if they are eligible – to keep ahead of getting sick this winter.”

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