Free flu jabs for young kids with respiratory illnesses

File photo / Natalie Slade
File photo / Natalie Slade

Free flu jabs will be available to children aged under five who have respiratory illnesses.

Health Minister Tony Ryall announced today that children aged from six months to five-years-old who have been hospitalised for respiratory illnesses like asthma, or have a history of significant respiratory illness, will have free access to the flu vaccine from April 1.

He said children with respiratory illnesses were most at risk of suffering serious complications from influenza.

"In previous years many of these children have been admitted to hospital as a result of the flu.

"Vaccination is the best protection from influenza and PHARMAC's decision to extend the flu vaccine will reduce the likelihood of these young children ending up in hospital with complications from getting the flu.''

PHARMAC estimates extending the influenza vaccine to this group of children will cost District Health Boards an additional $1.2 million over five years. Current five-year spending on influenza vaccine is around $23m.

New Zealanders over the age of 65, pregnant women and people with ongoing health conditions or heart problems are also able to get the flu vaccine for free.

This year's influenza immunisation campaign started last week.

- APNZ

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