Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says New Zealanders' receiving their flu vaccinations will help ease the burden on the country's emergency departments.
Ardern spoke to AM on Monday, where host Ryan Bridge asked about New Zealand's upcoming health reforms and whether they would help ease those burdens.
In the interview with Bridge, Ardern rejected the reforms - where all of New Zealand's district health boards will be scrapped in favour of a national entity known as Health NZ - were simply about funding a "new bureaucracy".
"That is not at all what Health NZ is," she said.
Ardern said the reforms were about creating a national health service.
She said the Government was reforming the system because the current one was failing.
Amid reports of pressurised emergency departments, Ardern reiterated New Zealanders should get their flu vaccinations up.
"We anticipated that this would be a very hard winter," she said. "We have the combined effects of… continuing to manage COVID-19 but flu in Counties has overtaken COVID for respiratory-related hospitalisations."
Ardern said other respiratory illnesses were also impacting the health system.
"Winter is always a tough time but it is particularly tough because we haven't had flu for two years, and now we have it with a vengeance."
Ardern said there were things the Government and New Zealanders could do to ease the burden.
She pointed to Counties Manukau DHB, which has funded local GPs to help out at weekends.
"Our primary care providers - our GPs - are doing an exceptional job," Ardern said.
"My ask of everyone: please get your flu jab and, alongside that, masks - they also have the added benefit to help the spread of flu as well."