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Decision to extend Meningococcal B campaign

9 May 2005

Decision to extend Meningococcal B campaign to babies aged 6 weeks and up, will affect 600-700 Otago babies

Today's decision to make all babies aged from six weeks eligible for the MeNZB vaccine to help protect them against meningococcal B disease will impact on about 600-700 Otago babies during the Meningococcal B campaign which starts on 30 May.

Otago-based Meningococcal programme sponsor Dr Roy Morris today said parents of young babies should contact their GP or practice nurse if they want further advice and to make an appointment for the vaccinations from 30 May.

In Otago, it is aimed to immunise nearly 50,000 young people aged 6 weeks - 19 years. This includes:

. 9,680 from 6 months - 5 years (now including 600 - 700 babies from 6 weeks to 6 months)

. 38,930 aged 5-19 years

Three doses of the vaccine, administered six weeks apart, are required for it to be effective.

Preschoolers, children not attending school and young people who have left school and are less than 20 years of age will be immunised by a doctor or nurse from their GP or health service (such as Student Health). School children will be immunised at school by qualified Public Health nurse vaccinators.

Vaccination of those aged under 5, school leavers and young people aged up to 20 begins on 30 May 2005.

The Meningococcal B vaccination programme is funded by the Ministry of Health and is available to anyone aged over six months and under 20 years of age.

New Zealand is experiencing an epidemic of Meningococcal B disease. The disease can cause serious and life-long disability, or death.

School students will be offered immunisation at school. Children not attending school, children under five years of age and other young people who have left school will be immunised by their doctor or practice nurse.

Vaccination with the MeNZB tm vaccine offers protection against the epidemic strain of meningococcal bacteria but not against other strains of meningococcal disease.

All three vaccinations are needed to protect an individual against the disease. The vaccine has undergone extensive clinical trials, and is safe.

ENDS


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