The number of New Zealanders vaccinated against influenza is at an all time high.

Health Minister David Clark announced this morning that around 100,000 more doses had been given this year, compared to last.

"More than 1.29 million doses of influenza vaccine have been distributed so far, more than any previous influenza season," Clark said.

He said he was pleased that more New Zealanders than ever before had chosen to protect themselves from the virus.


"This is an enormous credit to the hard work of vaccinators at general practices, pharmacies and other health providers around the country over the last few weeks.

"For those who are at greater risk of influenza and have not yet been vaccinated, it's not too late to be protected before the peak of the season."

Clark said every year around 400 New Zealanders died from influenza.

"Many of whom have other health conditions that make them more vulnerable to complications from the disease."

On Wednesday the Australian Government announced a move to start issuing monthly fines to parents who don't vaccinate their children.

Strengthening its "no jab, no pay" policy, parents who don't vaccinate their children will lose $30 a fortnight from their tax benefits for each child they don't vaccinate.

The announcement sparked mixed debate on social media with some New Zealanders saying it should be up to the individual to make decisions on their own body and others saying it's a good call because it's a societal issue.

Clark said Australia and the Northern Hemisphere had had particularly deadly influenza seasons over the past 12 months.

"New Zealand's influenza vaccines protect against the four strains that were most prevalent overseas," Clark said.

The immunisation is free for pregnant women, those aged 65 and over, and those under 65 with heart disease, severe asthma, diabetes, cancer and other serious conditions that put them at greater risk of complications from influenza.

This includes children under 5 who have previously been hospitalised for a respiratory illness.

The vaccine is available from general practices, but pregnant women and those aged 65 and over can also get immunised free at many community pharmacies.