24 Aug 2009

New wave of swine flu likely - ministry

3:46 pm on 24 August 2009

The Ministry of Health says New Zealand appears to be past the peak of the first wave of swine flu but the pandemic is unlikely to be over yet.

The Australian government has ordered 21 million doses of a vaccine and will begin a mass vaccination programme in September.

Vaccinations will be offered to health workers and others in New Zealand when a cell-based vaccine due to to arrive in September is licensed for use, probably in the New Year.

Officials in New Zealand are awaiting a World Health Organisation decision next month about whether a swine flu vaccine will be included in next year's seasonal flu jabs before they confirm a similar vaccine order.

Director of Public Health Mark Jacobs says swine flu appears to be abating, but there is likely to be another wave.

More people choose to get flu jab

Nearly one in four New Zealanders have had a seasonal flu vaccination so far this year, almost 27% more than last year.

As of last week, more than 956,000 people had been vaccinated against seasonal flu, compared to 755,000 last year when there was no swine flu present.

Officials bought an extra 125,000 doses of the annual vaccine, extended the period for vaccinations until the end of September and last month made the jab free for everyone.

Although the vaccine offers no protection from swine flu, health officials encouraged people to have the seasonal flu jab to ease the overall burden of influenza in the community.

16th person dies from swine flu

The number of deaths associated with swine flu in New Zealand has risen to 16, the Ministry of Health said on Monday.

A Waikato woman, who had underlying medical conditions, has died in Auckland Hospital. Her family has asked for privacy.

The 16 deaths reported by the ministry are cases in which swine flu is a primary cause of death. However, other deaths are being investigated by the coroner.

As of Monday, there have been 3106 confirmed cases of swine flu nationally - an increase of 84 since figures were released three days ago.

However, the ministry believes the real number of cases is much higher.