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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 3 Hansard (22 March) . .

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Eligible kids attending ACT Health early childhood immunisation clinics for their national immunisation program scheduled vaccinations will be offered the flu vaccine. Specific flu clinics have also been set up to accommodate children in this age group where a scheduled vaccine is due. The clinics will commence offering appointments, including for the vaccine, from 16 April, and the community health intake line is currently taking appointment bookings for these clinics.

From the beginning of April, ACT Health will be delivering a base stock of vaccines for the ACT childhood influenza vaccination program to our general practices. These deliveries will include promotional materials, including posters and information pamphlets. Once GPs have stock in their fridge, they can commence administering the vaccine to kids.

MS CODY: Minister, why is this a priority for the ACT government at this time?

MS FITZHARRIS: The government is taking very proactive measures this year to protect babies and young children from the flu, and through them the wider community.

Last year's flu season, as we know, was larger and lasted longer than any influenza season in the previous five years and since the 2009 pandemic year. Sadly, we saw deaths in our own community. Children under five were most affected by the 2017 flu season here in the ACT. Two out of every 100 children aged less than five years were notified to ACT Health with the flu during 2017.

A yearly flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the risk of getting sick with the flu and spreading it to others, and the need for hospitalisation and potentially life-threatening pneumonia. This is why the government is making this vaccine available free to children up to five. A number of other Australian state governments have also recognised the need to protect young children and have announced funding for free flu vaccinations for children under five years commencing in 2018, including New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. I also welcome the commonwealth's announcement of providing a special flu vaccination to those Australians over 65.

Government—international engagement policy

MS CODY: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, can you please outline how the ACT government is continuing to grow and develop links with New Zealand, particularly with our sister city Wellington, in line with the international engagement strategy?

MR BARR: I thank Ms Cody for the question. I can advise that I attended the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum in Sydney earlier in the month, primarily to promote aviation connections between Canberra and New Zealand. New Zealand is the largest inbound market for visitors to Australia but sits at number five for the ACT. This, along with our shared history, the opportunities for Canberra businesses and cultural exchanges, has driven the ACT government's strategy to form closer links with New Zealand and particularly Wellington. Resuming a Canberra to


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