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Immunisation to the People

Immunisation to the People

The number of Gisborne children immunised is set to increase with the establishment this month of a mobile outreach immunisation service.

Known as the Outreach Immunisation Service, it involves registered nurses who are authorised vaccinators, and their trained assistants, visiting families who for a variety of reasons have been unable to have their children aged 0-6-years old vaccinated.

Catch up vaccinations will be offered in the home or other appropriate setting.

“Immunisation reduces the risk of vaccine preventable diseases such as hepatitis B, measles and rubella,” said the Outreach services’ coordinator, Lenora McDonald.

“While uptake of the free vaccinations in this region is good, we, and the rest of the country could do better. Our aim is for 95% of children to be fully vaccinated at two years old.”

A 2003 survey indicated 84% of Tairawhiti children aged two, had been vaccinated.

Ms McDonald said when some children do not receive their vaccinations it can put the whole population at risk of contracting an often deadly disease.

The Outreach Immunisation Service is a cooperative venture by the two local Primary Health Organisations (PHOs) Turanganui and Ngati Porou Hauora, and Tairawhiti District Health.

PHO nursing staff will visit families and offer the vaccination, while TDH staff will coordinate the home visits and provide administrative support.

Ms McDonald said access to transport is sometimes an issue for parents considering immunising their children, as well as a lack of knowledge about what free vaccinations are available.

“So where a family has not responded to three follow-up letters from their GP, the family’s name is referred to me, and I organize for the Outreach team to visit. I then monitor the outcome and report back on the progress to the Ministry of Health”.

The Outreach service will begin on Monday 16 February when Ngati Porou Hauora PHO primay health nurse Nga Kay and Kaiawhina TeoArani Wilson visit families in the Elgin area.

Mrs Kay said she has always been passionate about ensuring families and their children or tamariki are immunised.

“The Outreach service gives whanau another chance, another option, and is about improving the accessibility of the service.”

The second vaccinator team are vaccinator Janine Brown and Kaiawhina Sarah Brown of Turanganui PHO.

Sarah Brown said some parents of children may feel more comfortable having their children vaccinated in their own home or whare.

“I’m hoping that with this method we will be able to catch up with the immunisations thereby improving the health of people overall.”

Ms McDonald said as well as visiting families in their homes, the Outreach project will also enable the vaccinators to visit marae and kohanga reo where appropriate.

However, Ms McDonald warned, that families could not afford to become complacent about immunisation.

“Families and whanau should proactively ensure their children are vaccinated as early as possible at their GP.”

“The success of New Zealand immunisation programme means the public very rarely see the effects of the diseases vaccination protects against. But the effects are often fatal. Whooping cough for example is a serious infectious disease characterised by long bouts of coughing, followed by a gasping sound like a ‘whoop’ and often vomiting.”

Anyone wanting more information about the immunisation schedule for New Zealand children vaccinations should contact their local GP.

The Immunisation Schedule is as follows:
Patient's age DtaP-
IPV Hib-Hepatitis B Hepatitis B IPV MMR DTaP/
Hib Td Influenza
6 weeks • •

3 months • •

5 months •

15 months

• •

4 years •

11 years


45 years

65 years

• •
Key: D-Diphtheria, T-Tetanus, aP-acellular Pertussis, IPV-Inactivated Polio Vaccine, Hib-Haemophilus influenzae type b, MMR-Measles-Mumps-Rubella, Td-Adult Tetanus-diptheria

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