June 12, 2017
Older Maori at extreme flu risk
Maori, Pasifika and low-income earners are most vulnerable to dying of the flu.
New research from the University of Otago, Wellington published in the Journal of Infection shows influenza kills about 500 New Zealanders each year.
Dr Trang Khieu, who did the study as part of her PhD , says it’s probably New Zealand’s biggest single infectious disease killer, accounting for about 1.8 per cent of total deaths.
In the key 65-79 year age group, Maori are 3.6 times more likely to die of influenza than those of European/other ethnicity.
People living in the most deprived 20 per cent of neighbourhoods are almost twice (1.8 times) as likely to die of influenza compared with those living in the least deprived areas.
Men are also more vulnerable, with males aged 65-79 years almost two times (1.9 times) more likely to die of influenza than females.
Study co-author Professor Michael Baker says the results show it is important to target flu vaccination and other interventions to the most vulnerable groups.
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