Bay of Plenty doctors and nurses are encouraging residents to get their flu jab as the winter peak in demand draws closer.

The Ministry of Health has distributed more than one million doses of the seasonal influenza vaccine and was encouraging New Zealanders to get vaccinated.

Director of public health from the Ministry of Health Dr Caroline McElnay said every year people died from influenza.

She said the ministry was particularly encouraging people who were over 65 years old, pregnant or who had a long term health condition, to get vaccinated.

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Practice manager at The Doctors Bureta in Welcome Bay Simone Hunter said there was definitely a peak in demand around this time of year, especially heading into winter.

She said their practice ran "flu clinics" around this time of year, where one nurse gave the immunisation every 10 minutes for a number of hours.

The nurse usually gave about 30 jabs a day in the clinic, but could even get up to 50, she said.

She said it was so important as flu was something that could turn fatal for those who had ongoing health issues.

Practice nurse Sonya Van Boven at Central Health in Rotorua said there was always a massive peak in demand for the jab this time of year and they were usually "fully booked out" from April.

She said it was also vital for those who didn't have ongoing health issues to go out and get the vaccine as the flu was a "contagious and debilitating" illness.

"Getting vaccinated before the winter peak of influenza arrives is important for making sure as many of us as possible are protected, as it can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to provide the best protection," said Van Boven.

People aged 65 and older and children aged 4 and under with a history of serious respiratory illness are eligible for free influenza immunisation.

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The vaccine was also free for those at high risk of complications, which includes those with long term health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease, kidney disease and cancer, as well as pregnant women.