27 Aug 2015

Flu rates on the way back down

6:57 pm on 27 August 2015

Though flu appears to have reached a peak and the number of cases is on the way down, free flu vaccinations are being extended another two weeks for at-risk groups.

Free flu jabs for those at risk, including those 65 and over and pregnant women, were to have ended next Monday, but Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said they would remain available until 11 September.

With flu levels still relatively high in some communities, he said it was still worth getting vaccinated.

Latest data from the Institute of Environmental Science and Research shows doctors' consultation rates for the flu had dropped.

There were a 415 consultations for influenza-related illnesses this week, compared to 487 last week.

Canterbury clinical virologist Lance Jennings said flu appeared to have peaked for the winter.

"Levels last week are similar to what we saw in 2012, and the influenza activity in most of the North Island District Health regions have returned to below the national weekly average consultation rate," he said.

However, there was still a lot of flu on the West Coast and in South Canterbury.

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