Associate Health Minister, Julie Anne Genter, said the flu jab season began earlier and hundreds of thousands more vaccines were distributed, resulting in double the number of people being vaccinated compared to this time last year.
“Despite the COVID-19 lockdown, the vaccination programme rollout has been a success in terms of the number of at-risk people already vaccinated.
"Last year only one in four New Zealanders got their flu vaccine, while this year we are on track for more than one in three New Zealanders.
"We have done all we can in this unprecedented situation of high demand to ensure it is going to those who need it most."
The Government started the flu jab season early to make sure priority groups - such as healthcare workers and the elderly - could access a vaccine shot and help maintain the capacity of the healthcare system if COVID-19 cases were higher.
Genter said with high demand for vaccines this year further stocks of vaccines would be released this week.
“We are working to get flu vaccines to those who need them the most as fast as possible.
"That’s why we are asking for those essential workers who are still at work to be next in line for getting immunised – like supermarket workers."
Genter encouraged people to get in contact with their local GP or pharmacist to make a vaccination plan.
She also wanted to make it clear that the flu vaccine does not protect against Covid-19.
"We have moved quickly to get more people vaccinated, earlier, to limit the spread of the flu - so that fewer people end up in hospital and put more pressure on our hospitals during a busy time with COVID-19.”
Free flu vaccines continue to be available for:
- People aged 65 and over
- People who are pregnant
- People with certain chronic conditions
- Young children with a history of severe respiratory illness.