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Flu vaccine available to 1.7 million New Zealanders in 2024 – Pharmac

Pharmac – Te Pātaka Whaioranga has confirmed who will be able to get the funded influenza (flu) vaccine from 2 April 2024, with around one million people eligible to get it for free.

“The flu vaccine is free for those who are most vulnerable to becoming very sick if they get the flu,” says Pharmac’s Director Pharmaceuticals, Geraldine MacGibbon.

“For the 2024 flu season the vaccine is funded for all people 65 years and over, people with long-term conditions (like asthma and diabetes), those who are pregnant, and people with specific mental health conditions or addiction issues.”

In 2022 and 2023 Pharmac widened access to the flu vaccine with funding made available as part of the government’s response to COVID-19 and its impacts. Pharmac used the ring-fenced COVID-19 treatment budget to pay for children up to 12 years of age, and all Māori and Pacific people between 55 and 64 years of age to access the vaccine. This funding has now ended so these groups are no longer eligible in 2024.

“We know it is difficult to hear that while you or your whānau were able to access the flu vaccine in the past for free, you don’t have that funded access now.”

“The funding of the flu vaccine comes from our combined pharmaceutical budget – this is the fixed budget set by the government which we use to fund all medicines and vaccines. We have to make really difficult decisions about what’s funded from this fixed budget for New Zealanders.”

The eligibility for the funding of the flu vaccine is targeted to those who are at the highest risk of becoming ill from the influenza virus. Pharmac has sought clinical advice from its Immunisation Advisory Committee to determine eligibility.

“While it is ultimately our role to decide which medicines and vaccines are publicly funded, we work with external experts when making these difficult decisions. We’re guided by robust evidence and the expertise of clinicians and the healthcare sector, and wider public.”

“We have considered funding applications for widening access to the flu vaccine, and these are something we would like to fund in the future, depending on available budget.”

Those who do not qualify for the funded vaccine can pay to be vaccinated through general practitioners, pharmacists and other private immunisation providers. Some people might be able to get a free vaccination through their employer’s occupational health programme.

“It continues to be important to keep our communities safe and well, and protected from the damaging effects of the flu, so we encourage people to chat with whānau, friends and their healthcare practitioner about the opportunity to get vaccinated,” says MacGibbon

2024 Flu season https://pharmac.govt.nz/medicine-funding-and-supply/what-you-need-to-know-about-medicines/vaccines/flu-season

 

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