Flu vaccine price increase

Media release Medicines

Pharmac has confirmed that the purchase price of the annual influenza vaccine will increase by $2 a dose, the first increase since 2008.

“The influenza vaccine has been supplied at $9 a dose for the last 14 years,” says Pharmac’s Director of Operations Lisa Williams. “The supplier, Seqirus, has advised us that they are increasing the price of the vaccine in New Zealand, from $9 a dose to $11.”

“The flu vaccine is free for those who are most vulnerable to becoming very sick if they get the flu including pregnant women, people aged 65 and over, and people with certain health conditions, such as chronic asthma or diabetes. Those who do not qualify for the funded vaccine, can buy one through general practitioners, pharmacists, occupational health providers and other private immunisation providers.”

For patients eligible for a fully funded vaccination the vaccine remains free. For patients who pay for a vaccination there may be an increased cost, due to the price rise being passed on by the vaccinator.

“The increase in price means that vaccinators will pay a higher purchase price of $2 per dose,” says Ms Williams. “They will be fully reimbursed the purchase price when vaccinating someone who is entitled to a funded flu vaccine, but when vaccinating private patients with the Afluria Quad or Afluria Quad Junior flu vaccination they’re likely to pass that cost on.”

A record 2 million vaccine doses are expected to be available for this year’s flu season which starts on 1 April. Pharmac and the Ministry of Health will be working to significantly increase the uptake of influenza vaccine compared to previous years. Last year 1.43 million influenza vaccine doses were distributed.

The confidential net price to Pharmac is unchanged, so to the price change doesn’t impact the Combined Pharmaceutical Budget.