ESR scientists say with July normally the time for flu infections to peak, the number of cases being reported is still quite low.
However, ESR Strategic Health Intelligence Manager Dr Lisa Oakley says that could change quickly.
“Generally it’s this time of year that we start to see flu cases peak. Although the numbers that we are seeing are still low compared to previous years, our surveillance is telling us that they may start to rise soon.” says Dr Oakley.
This year’s flu season in the New Zealand comes on the heels of a flu season in the Northern Hemisphere which was associated with an increase in hospitalisation and numbers of death.
Dr Oakley says countries such as the UK reported moderate to high levels of influenza and flu-like illnesses during their 2017/2018 season.
“The WHO recommended a change in our Southern Hemisphere seasonal flu vaccine which better covers some strains of influenza experienced in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s still not too late to get your flu vaccine this year. It’s the best protection for you and your family against the flu”
The vaccine covers four of the viruses circulating globally, including the one that we are currently seeing most commonly in New Zealand.
ESR, which manages the national influenza surveillance programme on behalf of the Ministry of Health, and has developed a dashboard to help the health sector’s management of the flu and provide a guide for people who are looking for information about the flu.
To keep up on the flu season in New Zealand, go to the ESR flu surveillance website: https://www.esr.cri.nz/our-services/consultancy/flu-surveillance-and-research/