New Zealand launches seasonal flu vaccine campaign

New Zealand Health Minister Tony Ryall has approved the start of the country's 2013 influenza campaign.

Ryall himself initiated the campaign when he received his annual influenza vaccine injection at the Karori Medical Center in Wellington, according to

The health minister said there is greater need for more New Zealanders to be protected against the illness. He added that the campaign will attempt to reach approximately 1.2 million people. About 400 New Zealanders die from influenza or complications related to influenza infection every year.

Mark McIlroy attended the campaign's recent launch. His wife Katherine was healthy before succumbing to the illness only five days after showing related symptoms.

The 2013 seasonal vaccine for use in the Southern Hemisphere includes two new strains recommended by the World Health Association. The vaccine offers protection against two types of influenza A, H1N1 and H3N2, and a new strain of influenza B, according to

Last year, New Zealand's flu vaccine uptake was approximately 23 percent of the population, which comprises approximately one million people. The vaccine is administered at no cost to those considered at greatest risk, including adults over the age of 65, pregnant women and those with ongoing health conditions.