Hipkins gets flu and Covid jabs to launch vaccination campaign

Sat, Apr 1

Minister of Health Ayesha Verrall and Prime Minister Chris Hipkins are urging Kiwis get their vaccinations up to date ahead of the flu season — including a new booster available for most adults.

The pair attended a vaccination event in Upper Hutt, where they both received their flu vaccine and bivalent Covid booster, encouraging Kiwis to join them.

Starting today, a bivalent booster for Covid-19 is available for all New Zealanders over 30, accessible for everyone as long as it's been six months since their last booster shot or positive Covid test.

The bivalent vaccine contains two strains or components of the virus, widening the net of immunisation, and has replaced the Pfizer booster vaccine.

"People at higher risk of severe illness from Covid-19 will also be able to receive an additional booster, regardless of how many doses they’ve previously had," Verrall said.

The Health Minister is also urging Kiwis get vaccinated against the flu to avoid the extra strain the virus put on New Zealand's healthcare system last winter.

"Our social lives are now back to what they were pre-Covid so it’s really important to get immunised to help slow the peak of flu season," Verrall said.

"Every winter, our hospitals and the wider healthcare system see an increase in pressure, particularly around admissions for respiratory infections and other illnesses."

Around 500 New Zealanders die each year from the flu, which, like Covid, is particular dangerous for those with weakened immunity.

"We've forgotten the flu because Covid has been so overwhelming, but the flu is as serious, if not sometimes more serious, than the Covid itself," said Upper Hutt GP Andrew Narayan.

"It is very, very encouraging and promising [to see so many people in line to get vaccinated]… the fact that they've come along to get the vaccination done is proof the people really want to protect themselves."

Flu vaccines are free for people aged 65 and over, Māori and Pacific people aged 55 and over, children between six months and 12 years old, pregnant people, people with mental health and addiction issues, and people who have long-term conditions like diabetes, asthma, or heart conditions, children aged six months to 12 years old, and people with mental health and addiction issues.

Flu and Covid vaccines can be booked at, or by calling Healthline on 0800 28 29 26, or contacting your GP, pharmacy or healthcare provider.