COVID-19: Reopening border brings concern for a 'twindemic' as flu season approaches

The border reopening brings fresh concerns of a so-called 'twindemic' with the winter flu season on the way.

Prepare to pull up your sleeves once again New Zealand. Auckland's mass vaccination centres are now offering COVID-19 and flu vaccines to those eligible.

Turuki Healthcare's Dr Lily Fraser told Newshub it is time for people to get their flu vaccinations.

"Definitely now is the time where we really need to because it's crunch time, the borders are open, the flu will come into New Zealand."

Around 500 people a year die from flu and Kiwis are being warned to prepare for a bad season.

"When that immunity hasn't been present in your population for two years then you're much more likely to see the population hit harder," said Northern Region Health Coordination Centre (NRHCC) chief clinical officer vaccinations Dr Anthony Jordan.

Free flu vaccines are available to over 65s, Māori and Pacific people over 55, pregnant women, those with underlying health issues, and children under four with significant respiratory illness.  Otherwise, they are $30.

If you've had COVID, you could be at more risk of flu.

Dr Fraser said people who have had COVID will find it harder to recover if they get the flu as well.

"They continue to be run down after having COVID, that it's taking time for the immune system to get back to normal, for the energy levels to get back to normal, may have ongoing symptoms of COVID, like a cough."

And there are concerns of a 'twindemic' and the risk of co-infection.

"We have seen that overseas, that people have tested positive for both COVID and influenza," Dr Jordan warned.

The good news is you can get your booster and your flu jab at the same time from your GP, pharmacy or local vaccination centre to protect yourself from both.