Pharmac approves free flu jabs in chemists for over 65s and pregnant woman
For the first time, some at-risk New Zealanders will be able to receive the flu vaccine at their local chemist free-of-charge.
Following a decision from Pharmac, Green Cross Health, which runs Unichem, Life Pharmacy and The Doctors medical centres, will offer the vaccine to pregnant women and people over 65 from April 1.
The flu – not to be confused with the common cold – can spread quickly from person to person through touch and through the air.
It can also make sufferers vulnerable to developing serious complications including pneumonia.
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Influenza poses a threat to people of all ages, with more than 1.2 million New Zealanders vaccinated against it last year alone.
However, Green Cross Group spokeswoman, Alison Van Wyk, said many more could benefit from the vaccine.
"Making the vaccination free in pharmacy to those most at risk due to age and pregnancy adds another layer of protection."
Pharmac deputy medical director, Dr Bryan Betty, said the move to include chemists aimed to increase options for the public.
"The flu is a serious condition that results in time off work, hospitalisations and even deaths each year," Betty said.
"This step aims to make it easier for people to get a subsidised vaccination and reduce the impact of this highly-contagious illness."
There are 20 chemists that can provide the jab within the Wellington region.
People who suffer from chronic illnesses such as asthma and cardiovascular conditions have not been included in the chemist roll out.
They will still be able to access the vaccine free-of-charge at their local medical centre or GP.
- Fever of 38 degrees or higher
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Body aches
- Upset stomach, vomiting or diarrhoea