For the first time in New Zealand, a quadrivalent influenza vaccine was supplied for the 2018 flu season. A quadrivalent influenza vaccine provides protection against four strains of influenza (two Influenza A and two influenza B strains).
The quadrivalent vaccine is expected to provide broader protection by containing an additional B strain.
1.3 doses of influenza vaccine have been distributed this year, an all-time high.
Influenza vaccine uptake data
One in every three people can expect to suffer at least one attack of shingles in their lifetime. Older people and those who are immunocompromised are more susceptible to shingles.
We were pleased to be able to fund the shingles (Zoster) vaccine for 65-year olds, with a catch-up programme that will run for two years for people aged 66-80. Around 600,000 people will be eligible for this vaccine.
Shingles can be very painful, prolonged and debilitating, so preventing shingles will reduce the impact of this disease in our older people.
In the first three months since listing, more than 190,000 people received a funded shingles vaccine.
This was one of two vaccines that became widely available during the year. The other was for people at the other end of the age spectrum, with our decision to widen access to the chickenpox vaccine.
PHARMAC extended funding of the varicella vaccine which prevents chickenpox. Chickenpox causes a prominent rash, itchiness and feelings of ill-health, and can cause scarring and complications that require hospital treatment.
Around 60,000 children are born in New Zealand each year. One dose is now funded for children at 15 months. A dose can be provided at 11 years for those who have never been infected with the varicella virus or had the vaccine previously.
We expect that funding the vaccine will lead to a reduction in GP and emergency department visits, and in hospitalisations. Varicella vaccine was initially listed only for high-risk individuals. With the extended funding, more than 80,000 people have now been vaccinated with the funded vaccine.
Varicella vaccine uptake data
Last updated: 13 December 2018