Flu jabs go wanting

Waipā’s immunisation rates for pensioners is well below the Waikato average as a season marked by severe flu takes hold.

And in the face of growing numbers of flu cases, numbers of people lining up for a vaccination has dropped throughout the country in recent weeks.

Waipā’s vaccination rate for people aged 65 and over is under 59 per cent – throughout Waikato it is 62.9 per cent.

The Ministry of Health provides free vaccinations for people 65 and over – though it refers to them as “65-plus”. It’s goal for pension-age residents is 75 per cent.

The flu vaccination is also free for Māori and Pacific residents aged 55 and over, people who are pregnant, have a health condition such as diabetes or asthma, and to children aged three and over.

The vaccination rates for Māori in Waipā is 51.77 per cent and just 40 per cent for Pacific people. The rate for all people aged 55 and over slips to 22.84 per cent.

The Waikato DHB is attempting to lift the figures by setting up vaccinations centres at sports and cultural events.

Immunisation Directorate Maree Munro said those sessions – at events in Hamilton, Huntly, Tokoroa, Raglan, Te Kuiti, Thames and Taumarunui – will continue next month.

The country goes through its biggest health adjustment in two decades tomorrow when Health New Zealand takes the reigns of the health system and Health Boards are disestablished. A new Māori Health authority will also be born.

Twenty health boards, including 15 in the North Island, will disappear – doing away with the need for board elections when the local body elections are held in October.

The new entity will employ 80,000 staff. A further 200,000 people are involved in funded agencies. It will manage all health services, including hospital and specialist services, and primary and community care. Hospital and specialist services will be planned nationally and delivered more consistently across the country.

Health NZ chair Rob Campbell has already warned the new entity will clamp down on those who seek to exploit the health system.

Meanwhile, Waikato’s Covid-19 rates for second doses are also low for children aged five to 11 – just 26 per cent are fully immunised, and the Māori rates is just 13 per cent.

Health experts are also warning the country that it is primed for potential outbreaks of other illnesses including measles, whooping cough and respiratory conditions.

“There is always a danger of getting Covid-19 and flu at the same time, and that could severely impact even a relatively fit and healthy person,” says the board’s Medical officer of Health Richard Vipond.

Mobile vaccination clinics are listed on the health board website.

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