Spring is here and we can put the worst of this year's winter flu behind us.

Health officials says influenza cases have dropped and should continue to fall away.

The most recent figures for the week August 20-26, show that, nationwide, 203 people saw a doctor because they had flu or flu-like symptoms, down from 305 people the previous week.

Last month, the H3N2 epidemic caused 60 flu-stricken people to be treated in a special isolation ward in Christchurch Hospital. That strain continues to dominate, making up 59 of the 131 confirmed cases of last week.


Brenda Saunders, spokeswoman for the national Influenza Specialist Group said Waitemata and South Canterbury represented the highest number of flu consultations per head of population - 273 cases per 100,000 and 181 per 100,000 respectively.

She said about 1.2 million Kiwis, or 20 per cent of the population, had been vaccinated against influenza by Friday, when the offer of free jabs for eligible people ended. Anybody still wanting a vaccination could now pay about $25 at their GP.

Meanwhile, the Northern Hemisphere is braced for its turn.

Several experts have predicted this winter's flu season could be severe after the serious outbreaks in Australia and New Zealand during our winter.