The greater-than-usual early uptake of influenza vaccine this
year probably reflects warnings New Zealand could be in for a
bad season, a Dunedin GP practice manager says.
Mornington Health Centre practice manager Barbara Bridger
said it administered about 200 vaccinations in just the first
couple of days after the 2013 vaccine arrived last week.
Demand had settled down since.
People seemed more aware, and some had asked their GP when
the vaccine would arrive.
She acknowledged the increased interest was likely because of
warnings over the summer that New Zealand faced a
heavier-than-usual flu season, based on what had been
experienced in the northern hemisphere.
Virologist Dr Lance Jennings, of Christchurch, said that, as
ever, it was difficult to predict what would happen.
However, parts of the northern hemisphere had had a heavy flu
season, and a variable flu season last year hit Canterbury
severely, which was a warning for this year.
He acknowledged it was possible Canterbury was affected
harder by flu because of stress caused by housing pressure
created by the earthquakes.
However, that did not mean it was not a sign other centres
could be hit as hard this year as Canterbury had been last
Although the same strains were expected this winter, they
developed to counter the population's developing immunity.
This was especially true of the H3N2 strain.
Flu was likely to start circulating in late May. It was best
to have the vaccine now, he said.
The vaccine is funded for some groups, including people aged
Today, the national influenza immunisation campaign will be
launched at Karori Medical Centre, in Wellington. Health
Minister Tony Ryall will receive his vaccine at the launch.