Just 54% of DHB staff have had flu jab - Ministry of Health

Source: Radio New Zealand

Just 39% of workers at Nelson Marlborough District Health Board have been vaccinated against flu, the lowest rate in the country.

A hospital ward (file photo).

By Rowan Quinn for rnz.co.nz

The Ministry of Health has released figures on the number of staff who had the flu jab as the health system struggles with winter illnesses.

They showed only 54% of DHB staff nationwide had.

That is despite predictions of a massive winter illnesses season, which is already contributing to long wait times in emergency departments in all of the major centres.

There were four other DHBs with fewer than half of their staff vaccinated vaccinated - Southern (44%), South Canterbury (47%), Counties Manukau (47%) and Lakes (48%).

Northland, Waikato, Taranaki, Hawke's Bay and Auckland all had rates in the low 50s.

Taranaki was offering perks and prizes to get its rate higher, including the chance to win a night in a luxury hotel.

The highest rate in the country was Tairāwhiti DHB which had 69% of its staff vaccinated.

Ministry of Health national immunisation director Astrid Koornneef said it strongly recommended health workers get vaccinated against the flu for their own protection and to reduce the spread of flu to vulnerable patients.

Hospitals were working hard to get their rates up but it was not compulsory for staff to be vaccinated, she said.