Doctors are worried a serious flu virus spike is set to put a strain on hospitals in Auckland and South Canterbury.
The number of doctor consultations for flu-like symptoms in the two regions has increased this winter, causing concern among and health professionals.
The influenza strain A(H3N2) ,which could cause a surge in hospital admissions and deaths, has been predominant in these two regions, according to data from Environmental Science & Research (ESR).
The spikes in influenza-like illness consultations in Auckland (40.9 per 100,000) and South Canterbury (51.9 per 100,000) were well above the national consultation rate of 18.4 per 100,000.
Dr Lance Jennings said the predominance of the H3N2 virus in the two regions was a worry.
He said infections with this virus could be particularly harsh for the elderly and those with an ongoing medical condition.
"A major outbreak of H3N2 would cause a surge in hospital admissions and deaths. It's not too late, however, for eligible people to get a free flu vaccination which covers three strains currently in circulation in the southern hemisphere, including H3N2.
"When you start seeing other people getting the 'flu' it's almost too late to protect yourself. It can take up to two weeks to develop immunity from the time of vaccination. So people need to book in with their doctor or nurse today."
About 940,000 New Zealanders have already had a flu vaccination this year, about the same number as at this time in 2011.