New Zealand Immunisation Strategy

Key messages

Your regular use and support of the following messages will play an essential role in increasing influenza vaccination and lowering infection rates.

  • Immunisation is the best protection against influenza. Even if you still catch influenza after immunisation, your symptoms are less likely to be severe.

  • Get immunised to stop the spread of influenza around your community. Even if you don't feel sick, you could still be infected with influenza and pass it on to others.

    • If you are sick, staying away from others, regular handwashing or use of hand sanitisers and covering your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing also help reduce the spread of influenza.

  • Influenza immunisation is recommended and FREE for people who are most likely to get very sick, be hospitalised or even die if they catch influenza:

    • pregnant women,

    • people aged 65 years or older,

    • people aged under 65 years with diabetes, most heart or lung conditions and some other illnesses, and

    • children aged 4 years or under who have had a stay in hospital for asthma or other breathing problems.

  • Having an influenza immunisation every year can keep older people healthy and active for longer.

  • Influenza immunisation during pregnancy helps protect the mother and her baby against influenza.

Influenza Immunisation Programme goals

  • Vaccinate 75% of the population aged 65 years or older against influenza annually.
  • Improve influenza immunisation coverage for people aged under 65 years with certain medical conditions, and pregnant women.
  • Improve influenza immunisation uptake for healthcare workers.
  • Vaccinate 80% of healthcare workers against influenza annually.

Who should be vaccinated?

Influenza continues to be a major threat to public health worldwide because of its ability to spread rapidly through populations. Influenza vaccination can be offered to individuals aged 6 months or older.

Influenza vaccination is funded for certain groups of people who are considered to be at greater risk of complications from influenza. Additional preventative strategies are important to reduce their risk of exposure to influenza. The vaccination is also recommended, although not funded, for those who are in close contact with individuals who are more vulnerable or at high risk of complications and who may also be less able to mount a strong immune response to vaccination. Frontline healthcare workers are usually funded by their employer.

Eligibility for funded influenza vaccine

All children aged under 18 years who meet the influenza vaccination eligibility criteria can receive funded influenza vaccination regardless of their immigration and citizenship status, and providers can claim the immunisation benefit for administering the vaccine.

Adults aged 18 years or older who meet the influenza vaccination eligibility criteria must also be eligible to receive publicly funded health and disability services in New Zealand to receive funded influenza vaccination. Refer to the Health and Disability Services Eligibility Direction 2011 for eligibility criteria (available at

Women aged 18 years or older who are pregnant and not eligible to receive publicly funded health and disability services in New Zealand are recommended to receive influenza vaccination but are not eligible to receive funded vaccination, even if they are receiving funded primary maternity services under the Section 88 Primary Maternity Services Notice 200721 (available at

Eligibility criteria for FREE influenza vaccination:

     • Pregnant women (any trimester)
     • People aged 65 years or older
     • People aged under 65 years with any of the medical conditions listed on the opposite page
     • Children aged 4 years or under who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness
     • The following conditions are excluded from funding:
           - Asthma not requiring regular preventative therapy,
           - Hypertension and/or dyslipidaemia without evidence of end-organ disease

For vaccination eligibility and clinical queries contact:

The Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC)
The University of Auckland
Phone: 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863)
Email: [email protected]
Also refer to the New Zealand Pharmaceutical Schedule on the PHARMAC website (

Influenza vaccination before winter offers the best protection