News > MOH Influenza and Pertussis update

Influenza and Pertussis update


National immunisation coverage at age 8 months was essentially unchanged at 92.2 percent for the quarter ending 31 December compared with the previous quarter, but results remain one percent lower than at the same time last year. There was an increase in Māori infant immunisation rates to 88.7 percent; it is great to see an upward trend but rates are still two percent lower than this time last year.

Influenza Immunisation Programme - funded quadrivalent influenza vaccines for 2018

Two quadrivalent influenza vaccines will be funded for the 2018 influenza immunisation programme:

  • Influvac Tetra – for adults and children 3 years and over (available in March)
  • Fluarix Tetra – for children under 3 years ie 6 to 35 months (available mid-April). Limited quantities of Fluarix Tetra are available – please reserve this for funded 6 to 35 month olds.

The funded vaccines will protect against the following strains of influenza:

  • A(H1N1): an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
  • A(H3N2): an A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 (H3N2)-like virus (new)
  • B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (belonging to B/Yamagata lineage) (new)
  • B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus (belonging to B/Victoria lineage)

A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 is broadly matched to the strain referred to in the media as “Australian flu”, which circulated in the Southern Hemisphere last winter and more recently severely affected the Northern Hemisphere in their current season. Regardless of whether the coming influenza season is severe, moderate or mild, immunisation is the most effective tool available to reduce the impact of the disease.

The introduction of funded quadrivalent vaccines has slightly delayed the production of the usual resources supporting the programme. The Influenza Kit will be available online at in mid-February. This and other printed resources are expected to be mailed to providers by the end of February.

Influvac Tetra vaccine for adults and children aged 3 years and over is expected to be distributed from March. Please do not plan clinics until your supplies have arrived. The introduction of free zoster vaccination from 1 April 2018 may place pressure on your capacity. In particular, be mindful of your cold chain capacity and vaccine ordering volumes during this time. Immunity may wane earlier with elderly, so vaccinating younger patients earlier and delaying older groups until April is a reasonable strategy and aligns with the introduction of the zoster vaccine. Therefore, during March, you may wish to prioritise eligible patients aged 3 years to under 65 years for influenza vaccination.

During 2017, Māori, Pacific and Asian immunisation rates were notably lower than those of New Zealand Europeans. Please record all influenza vaccinations on the NIR, particularly those aged 65 and older, and pregnant women.


With whooping cough cases continuing to be reported, please continue to reinforce the importance of maternal immunisation and timely infant immunisation as crucial ways to protect babies and children against whooping cough.

Pertussis tends to develop in three stages. During the first stage symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing, a slight fever, a mild irritating cough and generally feeling unwell. In the second stage, coughing fits (paroxysms) are the main symptom. A paroxysm is a spasm of coughing followed by a big breath in or a high-pitched whoop in children. Babies and adults generally do not have the high-pitched whoop. During the final stage, the cough gradually gets better and will disappear after several weeks.