Four people died and vaccinations were exhausted, as the flu hit the southern Canterbury at a higher than normal rate.
The Southern Canterbury Regional Health Commission (SCDHB) confirmed on Wednesday that four patients in the region aged over 50 with pre-existing illnesses had died of flu complications since March.
There is currently almost no spread of the influenza (1.3 million doses) at national level, which means that only priority groups will receive their stocks. These priority groups include pregnant women, people aged 65 and over, children under four years of age with severe respiratory illnesses, people with severe asthma, heart disease, diabetes and other serious health conditions that make them more susceptible to influenza
SCDHB members have developed plans to increase flu-like illness at Timaru Hospital and will reunite if there is any additional need, says Nurse Angie Foster, Nurse Infection Prevention.
"Although you always hope you are ready, this year the flu has arrived before the vaccine is available," she said.
Also, unfortunately, the new strains may occur after the flu is over, so we have to remain vigilant with practices such as good hand hygiene and a cough label during the winter months.
SCDHB has encountered more cases of influenza at the beginning of the season of previous years, Foster said.
"We have seen positive flu illnesses in the hospital since February 2009. In the past three years, our first confirmed case of influenza was in August," Foster said.
"This year we have several patients hospitalized and isolated with flu-like illness, not all patients tested for influenza, we are still collecting data, so we're not sure about confirmed cases of influenza, but that's more than that time last year."
Dr. Ramon Pink, a public health doctor at Canterbury DCB, said that while Timmaru's hospital had a capacity of over 96%, she had a plan.
"Like all DHBs, it has a winter plan that will probably include strategies to increase the capacity that the rise in winter sickness, including flu, is likely to require."
Pink said that, while there are no official data, the rate of similar flu-like illnesses in the Community is higher at this time of year in South Canterbury than in the previous five years.
"That's the case with the Canterbury and Nelson-Marlborough regions," Pink said.
Pink said he does not know the data on the adoption of influenza vaccines in the South Canterbury, but he can assume that the region is experiencing what is seen at national level.
Timberworth pharmacist Peter Burton of Roberts' pharmacy said the vaccines would expire by the end of the week.
"There is a shortage," he said.
"We can not get more, so some people will miss."
Burton has confirmed that the number of influenza vaccines administered each year is increasing.
"We have already done hundreds of vaccines," he said.
"The demand for influenza vaccines is increasing, it is only the third year we do it and it grows every year."
Geraldine's physiotherapist Liz Ball said the flu was definitely more prevalent in the southern city of Canterbury this year.
"Only on Monday we had 15 patients who changed their appointments because they, or a family member or child, were affected by influenza."
She advises people who have flu to stay at home.
"The number of cases of influenza is quite large, the best place is home to prevent getting other people."
The Pharmaceutical Management Agency (Pharmac) said this year has spread more than 1.26 million doses of the influenza vaccine, the largest number that was distributed so early in the winter.
"The number of widespread vaccines is greater than the total number of influenza vaccines distributed in 2016 and 2017 and almost as much as in the past winter when 1.3 million doses were allocated," said Lisa Williams, Director of Operations. ,
She said that Pharmac has been working with suppliers for several weeks on the possibility of supplying more vaccines.
"These vaccines must have the right flu strains for New Zealand to be delivered from another market in the southern hemisphere, and it is unlikely that they will still receive more flu vaccine deliveries at this time."
The Ministry of Health said that due to the continuing high demand for vaccines, there is a need to realize the remaining stock limitations.
"We will continue to work with Pharmac on the availability of new stocks as well as with healthcare providers to manage existing stocks."