The last time Whangārei accountant Nicky Hansen had a flu vaccination, she caught the virus.
That was in 1999. She hasn't had one since until this week when she decided to have one at the Kensington Pharmacy as she was on leave.
Hansen is among hundreds of Northlanders who, since mid-April, have had their flu jab at their GP clinic, nearest pharmacy, and Māori providers across the region.
The Government's influenza vaccination programme runs through to the end of December.
"The one and only time I had a flu vaccination was in 1999 and I had the flu. This time, I decided to have one as I am on leave and out and about a lot. It's good to be immunised," Hansen said.
On whether she's worried given what happened in 1999, she said: "It is what it is. I might get the flu anyway."
Those eligible for free flu vaccination are pregnant women (any trimester); people aged 65 years and older; those under with pre-existing medical conditions; and children aged 4 years or under who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness.
Central Family Health on Mansfield Tce in Whangārei has been giving flu vaccines to about 70 patients a day from a dedicated area on the clinic premises, away from those who arrive for their GP appointments.
Practice manager Ruth Redfern said the decision to allocate a specific area for flu vaccination was purely personal and came about due to Covid.
The practice started flu vaccination in mid-April when over-65s became eligible for a free jab, and the vaccination is available to the general population from today.
"We can do the flu vaccination at the same time as the GP clinic but we don't want to overwhelm the system and the fridge capacity," she said.
Enrolled patients need to make an appointment for a flu jab.
A Northland District Health Board spokeswoman said with the advent of quarantine-free travel, flu cases were likely to re-emerge.
As flu was not a notifiable disease, she said individual cases would not be notified to public health.
"Most influenza goes undetected because most people are not tested for influenza. We can say that 2020 was a very low flu year for New Zealand because of the border restrictions and quarantine requirements."
She said the infectious period for flu was only five days, therefore a 14-day quarantine period for Covid also stopped flu from entering New Zealand.
Flu vaccinations in Whangārei are provided at the Kensington Pharmacy, Maunu Pharmacy, Unichem Kamo Pharmacy, Unichem Onerahi Pharmacy, Unichem Buchanans Kiripaka Pharmacy, Unichem Buchanans Mansfield Pharmacy, Unichem Buchanans Pharmacy and Otaika Pharmacy.
Unichem Kerikeri Pharmacy and Shackleton's Kaitaia Pharmacy are the other providers in the Far North district.