Doctors say a killer flu is expected to strike New Zealand this year and are warning patients to vaccinate against it.
Public health officials say the flu reached epidemic levels in the United States during the northern hemisphere winter.
Doctors say a strain of the virus, which led to 64 children dying in America from influenza-associated illnesses, is covered by vaccines available in New Zealand this year.
Waikato DHB medical officer of health Felicity Dumble says the flu vaccination is free for people with long-term health conditions, those over 65 and pregnant women.
Pregnant women can also get a free vaccine for whooping cough during the current epidemic.
Dr Dumble says Waikato recorded the second highest notification for whooping cough in the country in February.