The influenza vaccine used in New Zealand this year will include protection against infection with four strains of the virus.
This will be the first time a four-strain vaccine, known as quadrivalent vaccine, will be funded in New Zealand.
More than a million New Zealanders receive an influenza vaccine each year, which is free for people over 65, for pregnant women, and for people with chronic conditions like asthma, heart disease and diabetes.
PHARMAC will fund two quadrivalent vaccines, supplied by Mylan, from 1 March 2018.
- Influvac Tetra will be funded for eligible people aged 3 years and over.
- Fluarix Tetra will be funded for eligible children aged 6 to 35 months.
PHARMAC deputy medical director Dr Bryan Betty says the four-strain vaccine will offer additional protection against influenza in 2018, and into the future.
“It’s pleasing to be able to fund this new technology for New Zealanders,” says Dr Betty. “The experience from the northern hemisphere winter flu season has shown how important it is to continue to be immunised.”
“We encourage New Zealanders to continue to take advantage of the opportunity to avoid contracting influenza, through a quadrivalent vaccine.”
PHARMAC negotiated long-term supply with Mylan in 2016, including provision for a four-strain vaccine once it was approved for use by Medsafe. This has now occurred.
The funded vaccines will both contain the strains of influenza virus specified by the World Health Organisation for the 2018 Southern Hemisphere influenza season.