Minister for Pacific Peoples receives flu jab, encourages others to as well to avoid co-infection of flu and COVID

Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio rolled up his sleeve on Saturday - not for a COVID-19 vaccine, but for a flu jab.

He is urging the Pasifika and Maori communities to get immunised quickly or face co-infection in the winter months. 

Despite Sio's phobia of needles, he joined the queue to receive his flu jab, looking away, feeling the pinch and then it was done. 

And he wants others to get it over and done with too. When New Zealand's borders were shut New Zealand had virtually no cases of the flu for two years.

"It could also mean our immunity system isn't as strong to be able to repel that," he said.

Northern Region Health Coordination Centre (NRHCC) chief clinical officer Dr Anthony Jordan agrees. 

"If you get co-infected with COVID-19 and influenza that puts you at high risk of having a severe illness ending up in hospitalisation."

On Saturday the Ministry of Health reported 6745 new cases in the community, the seven-day rolling average has risen by almost 100. 

"We've still got the potential for another peak as we head into winter, the pandemic is far from over," COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told The Nation.

Today's vaccination centre was the 18th large-scale event in Manurewa. They know how to coax people in, but the freebies may be losing their charm. 

While there were a few cars, many of the spaces were empty because demand for the vaccine is diminishing and it's not just in Manurewa.

Over two million people have received their COVID-19 booster and vaccine providers know it's an added challenge encouraging people to also get their flu jab.

But even as fewer cars roll up, the providers are sticking to the routine for anyone who wants to get immunised. 

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